The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984 Page: 342
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
tories from contemporary ranch women. Her "cowgirls" are "women
who work outside, on ranches or in the rodeo, on a regular basis" (p.
xxvi), and do not include ranch housewives, desperadoes, or women
who dislike rural life. The restrictions on the scope of the book arise
partly from the author's desire to portray a life she knows from ex-
perience. She grew up in a Wyoming ranching community, Iron
Mountain, around working cowgirls. But in narrowing her focus
Jordan also seeks to explain why cowgirls, unlike prairie madonnas
(and cowboys), are "somehow missing from our folklore" (p. xxii).
Folklore, strictly speaking, is not the topic, but Cowgirls does contain
an ample and well-organized synthesis of the relationship of private
lives to public images-a relationship that bears directly on folklore.
The oral histories are those of women like Elsie C. Lloyd and Amy
C. Chubb, sisters born in England who came West with their parents
in 1914 and have ranched ever since; Melody Harding, foreman of
the Bar Cross Ranch near Cora, Wyoming; and rodeo greats like Tad
Lucas and Fern Sawyer. Taken together, their accounts document the
fascinating interplay between the lives of working cowgirls-their re-
lationship with family, the land, their jobs-and the celebratory per-
formance of rodeo. An excellent sampling of historical and con-
temporary photographs reinforces the message that the tedium, the
rigor, the flair, and the danger of rodeo are more than pale reflections
of cowgirls' lives.
In Women of the West collaborators Luchetti and Olwell have set
themselves the immense task of producing "a document of personal
experience" about "those women who have not had a place in aca-
demic history (p. 14). To do so they have selected eleven excerpts from
women's diaries and autobiographies and combined them with over
two hundred photographs of women engaged in a variety of occupa-
tions and activities. The authors seem well aware of the methodologi-
cal difficulties inherent in such selections, and carefully explain the
paucity of materials available about western women. Luchetti also
strives, in her introduction, to provide an appropriate historical con-
text for the diverse matter of the book, and adds a special section on
"Minority Women," about whom there is admittedly little documenta-
Unfortunately the diaries and autobiographies themselves, while
sometimes giving powerful accounts of personal experiences, fail to
sustain the claim that their authors have been overlooked by academic
history. Seven of the eleven excerpts have appeared elsewhere in
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984, periodical, 1983/1984; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/m1/394/: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.