New Women in the Old West: From Settlers to Suffragists, an Untold American Story

Winifred Gallagher. Penguin Press, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2325-7
Journalist Gallagher (How the Post Office Created America) delivers a buoyant women’s history of the American West. Between the 1840s and the early 1900s, Gallagher notes, “the women’s rights movement and the colonization of the West were overlapping epochs.” Dedicated to bringing “civilization” to Western territories and states, white women used their primary roles as mothers to justify their leadership in creating schools and libraries, and to claim the moral authority to pursue temperance and other reforms. Homestead acts passed in 1862 and 1909 allowed women who were “single, divorced, deserted, or widowed” to stake their own land claims. Gallagher also spotlights Indigenous women, including Lozen, an Apache warrior who fought with Geronimo, and Susan La Flesche Picotte, who trained to become the first Native American physician. During the early 1900s, women increasingly linked their social and economic progress to politics, forging coalitions across racial and class lines to secure the right to vote; by 1914, women in most of the Western states had gained the franchise. Gallagher brings a fresh lens to the suffrage movement, and rescues many of her pioneering subjects from obscurity. Feminists will be heartened by this rich and satisfying history. Illus. Agent: Kristine Dahl, ICM Partners. (July)
Reviewed on : 03/31/2021
Release date: 07/20/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-7352-2326-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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