The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

This view comes across most clearly when Kolodny lets the women
speak for themselves in brief excerpts from their writings. When we
read Mary W. Rowlandson's 1682 account of her captivity by the Nar-
ragansett Indians in Massachusetts, or Caroline M. Kirkland's accounts
of frontier life in Michigan, we are struck by the profound differences
between women's and men's lives on the frontier. In some ways
women's lives were harder, lonelier, less free. Women were often con-
fined to airless, windowless cabins with sick children and back-
breaking domestic drudgery. They neither dreamed about nor ac-
complished mastery over the land.
Kolodny shows that with the movement of the frontier beyond the
Ohio Valley and out onto the open, parklike prairies, women's public
and private documents at last began to claim the land as their own.
From 183o to I86o, women rejected male fantasies in their writings
about the West and set about to establish their own vision.
Mary Austin Holley's promotional writings about Texas were
among the first to do just this. Holley (Stephen F. Austin's cousin)
offered women an attractive domestic view of Texas, where the civiliz-
ing influences of women's homes, families, and gardens were most de-
cidedly felt, and the openness of the prairies gave the " 'appearance of
vast parks, with ornamental trees artificially arranged to beautify the
project"' (p. 97). Similarly, Eliza W. Farnham's writings about Illinois
compare the landscape to a " 'strong and generous Parent' " (p. 97).
It was this view, Kolodny believes, that finally lured more and more
women west and made them more willing partners in the frontier ad-
venture. "For pioneer women . . . the proverbial Garden of the West
pointed not simply to a fertile landscape, but to a complex integration
of home and community made possible by that fertility" (p. 12).
Texas Women's History Project MARY BETH ROGERS
Austin
The New Deal and the West. By Richard Lowitt. Foreword by Martin
Ridge. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984. Pp. xviii+
283. Foreword, preface, illustrations, notes, bibliographical note,
index. $25.)
The New Deal has held a strong attraction for historians. Neverthe-
less, The New Deal and the West is the first book that considers the
impact of New Deal agencies and programs on a major region of the
nation. Richard Lowitt's West includes the states from the Dakotas,

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/. Accessed November 27, 2014.