The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001

Book Reviews

enced unique occupational health hazards, often had to operate small stations
in addition to performing their own work, and as Kuhn's own early life attested,
lived a somewhat footloose lifestyle.
Additionally, railroad telegraphy had its own hierarchy of skill, job title, and
pay differentiation between men and women. In fact, from its beginnings, teleg-
raphy was considered acceptable work for women. An article published in 1893
noted that telegraphy "does not soil their dresses; it does not keep them in a
standing posture; it does not, they say, compromise them socially. A telegraph
operator . .. has a social position not inferior to that of a teacher or governess"
(p. 21). Telegraph companies actively recruited and hired women in part
because they perceived little if any difference in ability between male and female
telegraphers and because female labor was cheaper.
Despite the seeming obscurity of his topic, Jepsen writes about a technical
topic clearly and engagingly and sets an excellent context for Kuhn's memoir in
his introductory and concluding essays. His glossary of terms is also very helpful.
He clearly understands railroading and telegraphy and their significance in the
history of the nation's technological and industrial developments as well as the
nature of occupational cultures. He is insightful in his effort to establish the rele-
vance of a memoir about a female railroad telegrapher to the lives of informa-
tion workers as we know them today. As a result, he has given the reader a
broader historical perspective on the role of women in the technological fields.
He has also opened another facet of Texas's railroading history that has lacked
much examination previously.
Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas Marilyn D. Rhinehart
Woman of the Plains: The Journals and Stories of Nellie M. Perry. By Sandra Gail
Teichmann. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2000. Pp.
xiii+2o4. Preface, introduction, notes, works cited, index. ISBN o-89096-
935-3. $24.95, cloth.)
Perryton, Ochiltree County, Texas, in the far-north Panhandle plains is the
setting for most of the journal entries and stories of Miss Nellie M. Perry
(1864-1953). The "seemingly endless .. . perfectly peaceful" (p. 31) landscape
inspired her life and writing as it did the life and art of Georgia O'Keefe, who
called it "a wonderful emptiness" (quoted in Hogrefe, O'Keefe: The Life of an
American Legend [N.Y.: Bantam, 19921, 47). Perry's reverence for the land is evi-
dent throughout these edited excerpts, which date from her initial visit in 1888
through 1925. She permanently relocated from Grinnell, Iowa, to Perryton in
1916.
The human experience on these boundless prairies captured and held Perry's
attention and is the primary focus of her writing. Her descriptive language cre-
ates a sense of place that enhances our perception of the late-nineteenth- and
early-twentieth-century settler's life. Travel was slow and exhausting in mule or
horse-drawn wagons on treacherous roads across the great distances of this vast
plain, with the nearest railroad sixty miles away in 1905. On her first visit Perry

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed October 23, 2014.