Dear Portal friends: Do you enjoy having history at your fingertips? We’ve appreciated your support over the years, and need your help to keep history alive. Here’s the deal: we’ve received a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Now it’s time to keep our word and raise matching funds for the Cathy Nelson Hartman Portal to Texas History Endowment. If even half the people who use the Portal this month give $5, we’d meet our $1.5 million goal immediately! All donations are tax-deductible and support Texas history: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Not Now

The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Book Reviews

tural variables, and the exploration of these gives the book its strength
and appeal. The authors write from the perspectives of history, litera-
ture, anthropology, sociology, and law, and the resulting essays focus
variously on ethnography, demographics, and the interpretation of di-
aries and memoirs. From this cross-cultural perspective some unifying
themes emerge: women who enjoy greater autonomy during marriage
are less likely to be economically and socially handicapped by widow-
hood, and a support network of family, community, and church signifi-
cantly enhances the widow's ability to cope.
In both these respects widows in the Native American and Hispanic
subcultures of the Southwest have fared better than those of the domi-
nant Anglo-American culture. Before native cultural patterns began to
be eroded by European traditions, matrilineal and matrifocal societies
such as the Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo always separated the assets of hus-
bands and wives and gave control of the community's agricultural land
and crops to women. In such cultures the death of a woman's husband
did not seriously affect her social or economic status. Hispanic women
likewise shared the stability of a rural agricultural environment and an
extended kinship network, plus the sustaining ritual and ceremony of
the Catholic Church. In Arizona and New Mexico they had the addi-
tional advantage of living under Spanish-derived civil law, which, un-
like English common law, gave married women half of the couple's
community property and testamentary rights over it.
Deep religious faith and a strong sense of community also helped
sustain Mormon widows; significantly, those few who had been plural
wives tended to be more self-reliant because of their experience as vir-
tual single parents during the shared husband's lifetime. Protestant
Anglo women living in monogamous marriages and nuclear familes-
the dominant pattern in American culture-have tended to suffer the
most severe emotional and economic dislocation from the loss of a hus-
band, unless they are fortunate enough to inherit a substantial estate.
Ultimately, Scadron emphasizes in her conclusion, "the critical impor-
tance of a woman's economic situation" is the "significant common fac-
tor" (p. 303) controlling the experience of widowhood. In this, south-
western women may perhaps regret that the culture that left women
most vulnerable during widowhood ultimately predominated.
University of Texas at Austin JUDITH N. McARTHUR
O Freedom! Afro-Amercan Emancipation Celebratzons. By William H. Wig-
gins, Jr. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987.
Pp. xxi+2o7. Preface, introduction, maps, illustrations, notes, bib-
liography, index. $24.95.)

261

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed April 29, 2016.

Beta Preview