Great Lakes Social History – Women on the Frontier – Living on the Frontier


Free online books and articles, with descriptions: pioneer women in the west, frontier women, life on the frontier, anti-slavery movement in the Great Lakes, Women’s work in 19th century America, frontier living conditions, recreation of the pioneers, southern culture in the Great Lakes, Yankees in the Great Lakes, Western Freedmen’s Aid Commission, customs of the pioneers, social customs on the frontier

Find the Directory for 90+ pages in this collection at History of the Great Lakes States.

 

Pioneer Women of the West

Ellet, E F.
New York: Scribner 1852

“In this interesting volume, we have 59 extended biographical sketches of wives and mothers who ventured into the western wilds, and bore their part in the struggles and labors of the early pioneers. Most of the biographies were prepared from private records, and are authentic in every respect; none had appeared previous to their publication in this work.”
– Peter G. Thomson, A Bibliography of the State of Ohio (1880)

For works about leading American women of the 19th century, see:
– Adams, Elmer Cleveland and Foster, Warren Dunham, Heroines of modern progress in Century Past Collective Biography A – F
;
Parkman, Mary Rosetta, Heroines of service in Century Past Collective Biography G – P;
Worthington & Co. , Our Famous Women in Century Past Collective Biography Q – Z

Also see our collections of Books on Women’s History and Articles on Women’s History

Woman on the American Frontier; a valuable and authentic history of the heroism …

adventures, privations, captivities, trials, and noble lives and deaths of the “pioneer mothers of the Republic”

Fowler, William W.
Williamstown, Mass: Corner House 1878

Numerous brief stories of heroism and hardship on many frontiers throughout American history. Some of the chapter headings are:

– Woman as a Pioneer – Woman’s Work in Floods and Storms – Woman’s Adventures and Heroism – On the Indian Trail – Captive Scouts – Patriot Women of the Revolution – Home Life in the Backwoods – Encounters with Wild Beasts – Courage and Daring
– Woman as a Missionary to the Indians – Woman in the Army – The Comforter and Guardian – Woman as an Educator on the Frontier.

For memoirs and biographies of life on the frontier in the Old Northwest, see:
Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History
;
Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Wisconsin History

With Poor Immigrants to America

Graham, Stephen
NY: Macmillan 1914

The author traveled with poor Russians who migrated from Russia to America in 1912, chronicling their voyage, arrival in New York, and onward travel through the Great Lakes region. Photos included. The book was published in Russian in Russia before it appeared in English.

Letters from the West: containing sketches of scenery, manners, and customs …

and anecdotes connected with the first settlements of the western sections of the United States

Hall, James
London 1828

“Like all the writings of this gentleman, these letters are unusually interesting. James Hall (1793-1868) served in the War of 1812, was a lawyer and then a judge at Shawneetown, Illinois, and served a term as State Treasurer. He was also a writer and editor.”
– Peter G. Thomson, A Bibliography of the State of Ohio (1880)

See the “Great Lakes Fiction” page on this website for more of James Hall’s work.

Page Directory of 90+ subject pages at History of the Great Lakes States

Books and articles about work, medical care, business & industry, etc. at Economic History of the Great Lakes Region

The Employments of Women: A Cyclopaedia of Woman’s Work

Penny, Virginia
Boston: Walker, Wise 1863

The author, Virginia Penny, dedicated this book, “To Worthy and Industrious Women in the United States, striving to earn a livelihood”.

In the preface she explained that she researched and wrote this book to help women to earn a respectable livelihood. She said that, “the few employments that have been open to women are more than full. To withdraw a number from the few markets of female labor already crowded to excess, by directing them to avenues where they are wanted, would thereby benefit both parties.” The book was written during the Civil War, and she wrote that, “a million of men are on the battle field, and thousands of women, formerly dependent on them, have lost or may lose their only support.” But the need for jobs for women was not a temporary condition that would end with the war. She is intent in helping to open up to women occupations customarily closed to them. She also strongly advocates “… the plan of every female having a practical knowledge of some occupation by which to earn a livelihood.” “If a female is not taught some regular occupation by which to earn a living, what can she do, when friends die, and she is without means?”

The author collected the information in this volume in New York City from 1859 to 1961. She corresponded with or visited hundreds of workplaces, and talked to managers and employees. The work contains 533 articles; more than 500 of them descriptions of occupations in which women were or could be engaged, with descriptions of working conditions, effects on the health, wage rates, a comparison of wages for men and women, time required to learn the business, and other information.

Also see: Campbell, Helen, Woman Wage-earners: their Past, their Present and their Future in Working Conditions – History of Labor Unions in the U.S.

Van Vorst, Mrs. John (Bessie) and Van Vorst, Marie, The Woman Who Toils; Being the Experiences of Two Gentlewomen as Factory Girls in Working Conditions – History of Labor Unions in the U.S.

Planting Corn Belt Culture; The Impress of the Upland Southerner and Yankee in the Old Northwest

Power, Richard Lyle
Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society 1953

Books and articles on the History of the Great Lakes region

Incidents of Border Life: Illustrative of the Times and Condition of the First Settlements …

in Parts of the Middle and Western States, Comprising Narratives of Strange and Thrilling Adventure-Accounts of Battles-Skirmishes and Personal Encounters with the Indians-Descriptions of Their Manners, Customs, Modes of Warfare, Treatment of Prisoners, &c. &c. : Also, the History of Several Remarkable Captivities and Escapes : to Which Are Added Brief Historical Sketches of the War in the North-West, Embracing the Expeditions Under Generals Harmar, St. Clair and Wayne : with an Appendix and a Review

Pritts, Joseph
Lancaster, PA: Hills 1841

The Hive of “The Bee Hunter”, a Repository of Sketches, including peculiar American Character, Scenery, and Rural Sports

Thorpe, Thomas Bangs
NY: Appleton 1854

Chapter headings are:

– Wild Turkey Hunting – Summer Retreat in Arkansas – Tom Owen, the Bee-Hunter – Arrow-Fishing – The Big Bear of Arkansas – The Mississippi – Large and Small Steamers on the Mississippi – Familiar Scenes on the Mississippi – A Storm Scene on the Mississippi – Grizzly Bear Hunting – A Piano in Arkansas – Wild-Cat Hunting – Mike Fink, the Keel-Boatman – Alligator Killing – Buffalo Hunting – Scenes in Buffalo Hunting – Woodcock Fire-Hunting – The Water Craft of the Back-Woods – Place de La Croix – Opossum Hunting – A “Hoosier” in Search of Justice – Major Gasden’s Story – The Great Four-Mile Day – The Way that Americans go Down Hill

The Second Annual report of the Western Freedmen’s Aid Commission, Cincinnati, Ohio

Western Freedmen’s Aid Commission
Cincinnati, Ohio : Methodist Book Concern 1865

You can find more works like these at our other ‘Social History’ pages.

Illinois Social History

Indiana Social History

Michigan Social History

Ohio Social History

Wisconsin Social History


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