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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

folk bewildered by change, the opportunist ready to bamboozle the un-
wary. Only the failed promoter of "Mr. Carmichael's Room" emerges in
more human terms; Sanford's sucker-list artist who takes money from
the gullible only to be gulled himself is a remarkably apt sketch from
life. One could wonder if Sanford's choice of the name "Mr. Cox" for
the bedraggled failure in "Luck" was influenced by the North Texas
exploits of S. E. J. "Lucky" Cox who promoted oil companies and did
several terms in Leavenworth. Sanford's perspective on petroleum is
emphatically negative: oil is dirty; oil causes littering and pollution; oil
ruins people economically, morally, physically, and emotionally. Oil is,
in short, destructive-a time-worn theme in American culture worth
more attention from scholars.
University of Texas of the Permian Basin DIANA DAVIDS OLIEN
The Female Frontier: A Comparative View of Women on the Prairie and the
Plains. By Glenda Riley. (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press,
1988. Pp. x+299. Acknowledgments, photographs, illustrations,
appendices, notes, note on sources, index. $25.)
Glenda Riley wrote the first doctoral dissertation on women's history.
She then wrote the first scholarly account of women as farm wives and
homesteaders in the West. With the publication of The Female Frontier,
she is now pioneering another field, comparative western women's
Heretofore historians have treated the Prairie and Plains as two sepa-
rate frontiers, which Riley argues is accurate for men. Women's shared
experiences and roles, however, "transcended geographic sections of
the frontiers" and constituted a "female frontier" (p. 2). She expands
her argument to suggest that region, era, and technological changes
had more impact on shaping men's work than women's, whose focus
was on "domestic production" and "social housekeeping" (p. 195). A
wealthy woman might have a servant to help with the laundry and a
woman in the 1930s might have access to a washing machine, but both
were responsible for the laundry and for all other activities within the
domestic sphere. Even working outside the home, single or married,
women found that gender shaped and limited their opportunities.
This book is divided into nine chapters. The Prairie and the Plains
have separate chapters in each of three sections: domestic sphere, em-
ployment outside the home, and community participation. The conclu-
sion beautifully synthesizes the material and arguments presented. The
introduction on definitions, interpretations, and images is especially
clear, concise, and useful. The chapter "A Profile of Frontierswoman"
graphically portrays the wide variety of women living in the West and


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed February 8, 2016.