The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992

Book Reviews

Prothro Texas Photography Series with this work that combines character pho-
tography with social history, gender role development, and a heaping portion
of grit supplied by the women who gathered in Sweetwater in the 1940s. The
book also provides excellent background for research in the Texas Woman's
University Library's WASP collections.
Texas Woman's University Library ELIZABETH SNAPP
We Just Toughed It Out: Women in the Llano Estacado. By Georgellen Burnett. (El
Paso: Texas Western Press, 1990. Pp. 55. Acknowledgments, map, notes,
bibliography, index. $12.00, cloth; $7.50 paper.)
The purpose of this slim volume is to tell the stories of eight of the earliest
white women to settle in the Llano Estacado (beginning in the mid-188os).
Through the experiences of Mary Jane Alexander, Dora Griffin Roberts, Mar-
tha Rayburn, Minnie Cox, Alice Baker, Josie McDonald, Hettie Hall, and Lou
Caraway, the author asserts that they "linked masculine and feminine worlds,
making it easier for succeeding generations of women to traverse the distance
between these two spheres" (p. 4).
In eight chapters, Burnett touches on environmental hardships, reasons for
immigration to the area (all of them came to the Llano Estacado because of a
father's or a husband's desire to move), the difficulty of daily life, marriage,
childbearing, childraising, social activities, widowhood, self-support, and com-
munity building. Because this is a small publication, each topic is discussed only
briefly.
Two basic problems underlie this study: its theoretical foundation and the
nature of the sources used. Burnett acts on a number of assumptions about the
existence and nature of gender spheres in the Llano Estacado without first
proving their existence. Using Julie Roy Jeffrey's and Ann Scott's works as her
base, Burnett does not tightly link these historians' theories about these spheres
in "the west" and "the south" to the Llano Estacado, nor does she explicitly de-
fine the area as culturally western, southern, both, or neither (a convincing ar-
gument might be made that it is more nearly midwestern). We do not know
enough about where these women came from or the kind of cultural context
they brought. For example, did they actually read Godey's Lady's Book, the great
carrier of the "cult of true womanhood" virus and the magazine Burnett men-
tions? And what hold did popular ideals about middle-class white womanhood
have in this part of Texas?
One might glean answers to such questions through close readings of sources
like women's diaries, letters, and journals (see Harriette Andreadis, "True
Womanhood Revisited: Women's Private Writing in Nineteenth-Century
Texas," Journal of the Southewest, 31 : ~, 1989). Apparently Burnett had access to
few or none of these personal narratives. Rather, her sources are most often
manuscripts, "family material," letters, and newspaper articles written by and
about these women late in their lives or after their deaths. While these can be
excellent resources, their public and reminiscent nature are almost guaranteed
to ignore or obscure the intimacies of their lives. As a result, their usefulness in

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed December 26, 2014.