Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Revival of the Cult of Domesticity

Just what we all need: another cult... The Bible-based teachings of the great patriarchy movement are not cultic enough for them... They have to prop them up with the ideology of culture, since it has more to do with culture than it does with Christianity.

They can't even come up with anything original. It's all Pre-Civil War retread.

From The Nineteenth Century "Cult of the Lady"

The nineteenth century, most of which historians have designated as the Victorian Age, was an era in which the idealization of women was developed into an art. No longer were women enjoined to simply live out their lives in dutiful labor for their families. Instead, an intricate and complicated ideology promoting the sacredness of hearth and home developed and came into its own during the years between 1830 and 1860. Women's lives for the rest of the nineteenth and on into the twentieth centuries came to be defined by and compared to this idea.

Women's fashions and the "cult of the Lady" reflected this ideology of domesticity. Although only wealthy women could aspire to be truly fashionable, the development of periodical literature which specialized in the "female concerns" of fashion, etiquette, and the home came to disseminate the current mode to an ever increasing and literate audience. Furthermore, these magazines, such as Godey's Ladies Book, presented the domestic ideal to which many aspired but only the upper and middle classes could actually attain.

Sometime during the late 1820's and early 30's, "Home" became the catchword of the day. Home became the haven from the rough world for men and children and was maintained by the smiling demure thing in spreading skirts and with folded hands. In her book on the developing technologies of housework, Ruth Schwartz Cowan remarks that the whole transition into industrialized society had a great impact upon the behavioral, moral, emotional, and political consequences of the ideology of the home. She concludes:

`Home' came to be associated with a particular sex, `women'; with a particular emotional tone, `warmth'... and with a particular form of behavior, `passivity'; while at the very same time, `work' became associated with `men', `hardheartedness', `excitement', `aggression', and `immorality.'...

...Although "cult of domesticity" is generally attributed to the Victorian era, it was no longer quite as prevalent in the years following the Civil War. Social upheaval moderated in varying degrees the adherence to the ideology. Although many women still thought of themselves as ladies, the woman of the "Gilded Age" was no longer tied to the home in the same way her sister of twenty years before was. By the late 1860's, the fashionables gave up their spreading skirts for bustles and the curiass form which delineated the female figure to a degree not seen since the 1810's.

The "cult of domesticity" and the "lady" provided a sense of security for many nineteenth century Americans. In that rapidly changing industrial era, the engendering of a safe haven guarded by a quiet female seemed the epitome of security. The raising of this vision to an ideology uplifted the mundane domestic duties of the housewife to a realization of the beauty of women's seperate sphere. Although in order to live this life a woman needed to be supported by a man, her task of providing a home elevated her social role. Indeed, by her very words, actions, an d dress, she could convey the status of her family. The "cult of domesticity", though it was pervasive in the thirty years before the Civil War, became an integral part of the history of women in America.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Victorian Truth Telling on the BBC

Channel 4 has a new programme for the fall, and I understand one aired in June. If you live in the UK, you can watch at least one full episode online, but we slugs on the other side of the pond cannot yet get access to all of these British shows yet...

From the Channel 4 website about the series "Victorian Passions":

Victorian Passions is a season of four films set to challenge our image of Victorian Britain as a buttoned up, prudish and unsmiling society.

From Queen Victoria's own passionate relationships, to the story of Arthur Munby and his servant lover, these films lift the lid on another side to Victorian life and challenge some of our long-held myths.

About the episode discussing Queen Victoria:

Victoria’s Men presents a seldom-seen side of Queen Victoria, both in childhood and then as a young queen. Through diaries and letters it explores the way her early life shaped the intense and complex relationships she was to have with men throughout her political and private life.

The real picture of Victoria could hardly be further from the dowdy, buttoned-up and forbidding image of the popular imagination. An intensely romantic wife as well as a fierce and effective politician, the programme highlights how Victoria both loved men and needed to be loved by them in return, not only as a queen, but as a woman in her own right. And privately, she revelled in her sexuality.

The potential scandal of some of her relationships set her on a collision course with her Royal court, family and public and at times plunged her monarchy into crisis. But it was one man, Prince Albert, who dominated her life during 21 years of marriage and the 40 years that followed his death.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Myth of the Victorian Patriarchal Family

if anyone is interested, I would like to recommend the following ...

The myth of the Victorian patriarchal family, by Eleanor Gordon (a Department of Economic and Social History, University of Glasgow, 4 University Gardens, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, UK) and Gweneth Nair (Department of Applied Social Studies, University of Paisley, Paisley UK)

It has been available online 22 January 2002

The Abstract on this study is as follows ...

Conventionally, the Victorian middle-class family has been regarded as a social and economic unit usually headed by a married man. The woman's role within this unit has been associated with service and dependency.

However, a study of a middle-class area of Glasgow based upon the census returns of 1851–1891 suggests that the widely held image of the Victorian middle-class family as headed by a paterfamilias may be misplaced. The high incidence of female-headed households and the range of kin, both male and female, which they contained, indicate the diversity of experience among middle-class women, the degree of their social and residential independence, and, thus, the dangers of viewing women's lives through the filter of Victorian domestic ideology.

again ... this whole myth around a woman and her role in the Victorian Era is simply that ... a myth ... it never existed
I can give several examples from my own family and that of my husband's family during the Victorian Era that dispel these myths ... these women were NOT that unusual ...
~ from the notes of Lady Victorian Historian

Revealing Necklines for Women and Effeminate Clothing for Boys (by today's standards)

Victorian Necklines

even the gowns of the upper class during the Victorian Era was too revealing! (in my opinion ... you do not have to agree)

Egads ... haven't these folks looked at those gowns!?!?

From Fashion-Era:

All this exposure was restricted to the upper and middle classes. Victorian working class women would never have revealed so much flesh. The décolleté style meant that the shawl became an essential feature of dresses. In the early Victorian years time corsets also lost their shoulder straps and a fashion for producing two bodices, with a closed décolletage for day and a décolleté one for evening.

may be their definition of modesty and mine are two different things

I perceive the gowns in the Victorian Era of the wealthy to be very, very, very revealing!

Effeminate Dress for Boys

there are some that want to crucify some women for wearing slacks today, but in the Victorian Era, little boys were clothed in dresses!

many little boys of the Victorian Era appear feminine by today's standards

out West there were many women that wore slacks simply because it made more sense in doing the work that they did

~ from the notes of Lady Victorian Historian

Victorian Boys Wore Dresses and Had Long Hair

From "Commonly Held Misconceptions about Historic Costume" from "The Clothesline" website:

Why did they dress little boys like little girls?

Though adult roles were extremely gender specific, small children's clothing was not...

Many images of small boys from the Victorian period and earlier appear feminine by today's standards. Some images show young boys in dresses almost identical to those of girls... Boys' clothing was not dissimilar to women's fashions of the nineteenth century. It was not unusual in the nineteenth century for small girls to wear bloomers, or pants beneath their dresses as well...

Like many other aspects of dress, the visible implicators of masculine and feminine have changed over time. The color schemes we associate with the identification of an infant's gender did not develop until the early to mid twentieth century... Finally, the use of pants for infant and toddler boys could create additional difficulties as fasteners commonly used today (snaps, zippers and velcro) were not available until the twentieth century. In the time before a child was potty trained, dresses would provide cover and access to diapers.

Until recent decades parents were not as concerned with declaring a child's sex... Gender would not need to be advertised to others who most likely knew the parents and the gender of the child already.

Beliefs about the nature of children also supported the idea that children developed personalities and individual traits as they grew, but were not necessarily born with them. Until babies grew into toddlers (2 or 3 years old) gender would not play a role in their lives. This may have been partially due to the high rates of infant mortality. This lack of individuality may have been a form of psychological protection for parents facing the likelihood of losing infant children.

Read the entire "Myths" online article here.

[Note: This blog host has an old photo of her grandfather wearing a dress and with long hair! He grew up to be very masculine: a coal, clay and sulfur miner; and later a welder. No gender ambiguity whatsoever!]

Female Hysteria: Help from the Sears Catalogue

Female Hysteria

This was once a common medical diagnosis for women. Mesmer did quite a lot of business with women, some of which approximates what some people call "Therapeutic Touch."

female hysteria is from the Greek idea of a "wandering womb seeking its proper place"

symptoms = faintness, nervousness, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and a "tendency to cause trouble"

is it any wonder that the reproduction rates declined during this era especially as the medical and marital advice = passionless women as ideal????

most of us are more familiar with this whole phenomenon because of the fainting couch and women having "the vapors" ...

when I first heard of fainting couches as a young girl, I remember thinking, "wow ... that is so cool!" ... I love furniture anyway so when I saw my first fainting couch that just cemented my love for furniture even more ... here was a piece of furniture JUST for women (like men had the triangle-shaped stools & chairs to accomodate the swords they wore at their sides)

this issue is a very touch and potentially VERY embarrassing issue for me to present ... so I will not go into great detail ... if you are interested, I would recommend you researching it yourselves when your children and husband are NOT in the room ...

If you opt to research, remember ... women during this era constantly had to go to the doctor for "women troubles" ... you may want to research this area as well as the above

"Why is this timeframe so looked upon and really REVERED in some Christian circles as the " end all be all" of modesty and enlightenment?"

... I simply cannot fathom that ... to me, rightly or wrongly, it is a very wicked and immodest
time frame

~ from the notes of Lady Victorian Historian

The Victorian (Non)Sensibilities of Bill Gothard

In 1974 Dr. E. Robert Jordan (Chancellor of Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary at the time) did a 22-page comprehensive analysis of Gothard's ministry which gave 15 reasons Why Fundamentalist Baptists Should Not Cooperate With Bill Gothard's Institute In Basic Youth Conflicts.

Gothard seems to move from experience to doctrine, from illustrations to principles resulting in full-blown teachings. There are HUGE problems with this ... but again, it also reflects some of the problems the visible church was having during the Victorian Era.

• Sex Scandals & the Victorian Era

I think you raise a very interesting correlation whether it was intended or not—i.e., the connection between how some present a very low view of women (twisting Scripture in order to do so) and sexual scandal... this, too, was very common during the Victorian Era ...

... there have also been huge sex scandals with Gothard and his brother ... again, very reminiscent of the Victorian Era's need to place everything under rules/regulations (only for those that could afford them & not the rest of us) and sex scandals

this is exactly what was happening during the Victorian Era

• Don't need to be Christian ... another area representative of the Victorian Era ...

The need for Christianity at these seminars was not an imperative. These principles apply to all: Jews, Christians, and Atheists said the St. Paul Dispatch on 26 April 1974.

Many at the time (I dunno about afterward) claimed that he was substituting his laws (i.e., Gothard's rules) for what the Bible said.

• Occult connection? another area reflecting the Victorian Era ...

I have heard some say Gothard's "Pre-Birth Training" borders on the occult. During the Victorian Era, the occult was making a re-appearance again ... even respectable Christian families of the Victorian Era were toying with the occult.

Also, there appears to be a connection between Gothard and Dr. Michael Ballam, a Mormon, whom I have been told is heavily influenced by New Age principles and pop psychology. Some of the stuff that Ballam promoted was occultic themes in "planetary vibration tones" and more . Ballam, apparently, held that Christ was simply a person that could channel power and/or energy in order to do His miracles. The Victorian Era was not that blatant, but basically implied Ballam's stuff via Spiritualism.

• Medicine connection to Victorian Era ...

Most of us are familiar with the Snake Oil man selling his potions out West during the Victorian Era. Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz deals with one (even though the movie had the setting in the 1930s). I have been told Gothard qualifies himself for giving out medical advice and undermines medical doctors that could cause life-threatening problems. Apparently in his January, 1996 Basic Care Newsletter Gothard told his followers that Cabbage Patch and Troll dolls in the home prevented birth & once thes offending dolls were removed, the women became PG! This whole thing borders on paganistic superstitution! His whole medical advice borders on mysticism which was very prevalent in the Victorian Era.

The Victorian Era also viewed illness in a very superstitious way with all health issues believed to be brought on by a spiritual cause. This is also reflected in Gothard's preference for natural cures and discouragement of traditional medicine as a first option for illness. Spiritual cause should be considered first. This is reflected in Henry Wright's book. It is nearly identical to the New Age views of people like Louise Hay.

confusion between true intimacy and marital relationships ...

Just like the Victorian Era, Gothard seems to confuse true intimacy (sharing thoughts, feelings, life experiences, etc.) and marital relationships. In the Victorian Era, the medical advice at the time told women and men they were not to enjoy each others company (in the Biblical sense) in marriage (which was probably why there was a need for so many prostitutes ... ). To Gothard, his view of love is cold and chemical ... which is understandable because it is my understanding that he has never been married. I never get the impression that males/females are to give each other their hearts in a marriage.

• legalistic rules ...

My brief exposure to Gothard definitely left me with the impression that he was similar to those from the Victorian Era with respect to having the need to have legalististic rules & regulations never found in the Bible. When discussing this with my mom's parents who where children of the Victorian Era, they would just shake their heads. If you follow certain rules, everything is okay. There seems to be no need for internal motivation. I remember huge discussions on this after attending that seminar in my family and tons of compare/contrast techniques with that seminar and the Pharisees.

It seems to me that he disputed Scripture's definition of grace as unmerited favor. I would have to go pull out my stuff from the attic to be sure. I can tell you I went away from the seminar thinking he thought it was necessary to follow certain rules/regulations in order to earn favor.

~ from the notes of Lady Victorian Historian

The Civilizing Force of Women on the Western Frontier

More About Women on the Western Frontier

Court records indicated many women physically defended themselves against enemies, turned out shiftless abusing alcoholic husbands from the home, led religious movements (i.e., return to Christianity), criticized public officials for wickedness, etc.

Consistently, women were seen as the “civilizers” of a culture.

~ from the notes of Lady Victorian Historian

Pearl S. Buck said:

American men will not be really happy until their women are.

An intelligent, energetic, educated woman cannot be kept in four walls — even satin-lined, diamond-studded walls — without discovering sooner or later that they are still a prison cell.

Mighty Western Women: Cathay Williams

Read more at Legends of American History

Cathay Williams

In a tiny shotgun cabin
Martha's baby girl was born.
A baby born to slavery
That no one could forewarn.

Cathay Williams was determined
And never was deterred
As she began her life as a house girl
Being seen but never heard.

Then the Civil War broke out
And the Union soldiers came
And taking Cathay with them
Her life would never be the same.

Cathay learned the ways of military life
And became an accomplished cook.
She was sent to General Sheridan
A job she proudly undertook.

Then the Civil War was ended
And Cathay was finally free
And in seeking out her freedom,
She found her place in history.

Her own way she needed to make
And a burden to no one be
So as a Buffalo Soldier she joined up
In the 38th U. S. Infantry.

Cathay Williams became William Cathay
And no one was to know
The secret of her identity
As a soldier she did grow.

The troops moved west to Ft. Cummings
To keep the Apache at bay.
There were one hundred and one enlisted men
And among them was William Cathay.

After two years as a soldier
In the 38th Company A
William went to see the doctor
And her secret came out that day

Discharged as a Buffalo Soldier
Cathay did her very best
As she continued to make her way
In this land they called the West.

Because of her illegal enlistment
Her pension passed her by
But she picked herself up and moved on
And never questioned why.

Life ended for Cathay Williams
At the age of eighty-two
She lived a long independent life
A life that was tried but true.

A salute to Cathay Williams
The hero of this rhyme
A special woman of the west
A legend in her time.

© July 1999, Linda Kirkpatrick
Visit with Linda Kirkpatrick

Mighty Western Women: Sarah Winnemucca

Sarah Winnemucca (1844-1891) ... granddaughter of a Paiute chief sent to learn the ways of the whites at a convent school in San Jose ... she addressed Congress to get a bill passed honoring her people’s rights on their own land

From the National Women's Hall of Fame website:

Born the daughter of Chief Winnemucca of the Paiutes, a tribe in Nevada and California, Sarah Winnemucca lost family members in the Paiute War of 1860. She tried to operate as a peacemaker, using her language skills learned in convent school to work as an interpreter in an Army camp. She went with her tribe to the Malheur reservation in 1872, and when the Bannock War broke out in 1878 she offered her services to the Army. She volunteered to enter Bannock territory when she learned that her father and other tribesmen had been taken hostage by the Bannocks. She freed her father and other captives and served as an army scout in the war against the Bannocks. She spoke out, describing the plight of her people, exiled from their homelands, and the treachery of dishonest Indian agents. She drew much attention, and was able to speak with President Rutherford Hayes and Interior Secretary Carl Schurz; promises to return her tribe to the Malheur Reservation were never honored. She wrote Life Among the Piutes[sic]: Their Wrongs and Claims, published in 1883. Despite passage of Congressional legislation enabling the return of the Paiute land, the legislation was never enacted.

Additional Resources:

Seagraves, Ann. High Spirited Women of the West. Lakeport, California: Wesanne Publications, 1992.

Luchetti & Olwell. Women of the West. Berkely, California: Antelope Island Press, 1982.

Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1883.

Mighty Western Women: Nellie Cashman

• Nellie Cashman (1845-1925) ... saved E. B. Gage, superintendent of the Grand Central Mining Company, who was to be kidnapped and lynched by outsmarting a group of lawless men

From the Desert USA website:

Described by her bioghapher, "Pretty as a Victorian cameo and, when necessary, tougher than two-penny nails," the extraordinary Nellie Cashman wandered frontier mining camps of the 1800s seeking gold, silver and a way to help others. Throughout the West, she was variously known as Frontier Angel, Saint of the Sourdoughs, Miner's Angel, Angel of the Cassair and The Angel of Tombstone...

Before long, Nellie joined a group of 200 Nevada miners headed to the Cassiar gold strike at Dease Lake in northern British Columbia. Here, too, she operated a boarding house for miners and gained notoriety for organizing a rescue caravan to a mining camp where a scurvy epidemic had broken out. Together with 6 men and pack animals loaded with 1,500 pounds of supplies, she completed the 77-day journey through as much as 10 feet of snow and arrived in time to nurse almost 100 sick miners back to health....

She was also active raising money for the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the Miner's Hospital and amateur theatricals staged in Tombstone. She was famous for taking up collections to help those who had been injured or fallen on hard times, especially miners. Always the pragmatist, Nellie found the members of Tombstone's red-light district sympathetic and charitable to her causes, and relied on their generosity to help others in need.

Nellie's community services in Tombstone continued to expand. She served as an officer of her church to hear the impromptu confessions of 2 of the 5 men who were to be hanged for the Bisbee Massacre of December 1883. The following year, when a group of miners attempted to lynch mine owner E.B. Gage during a labor dispute, Nellie drove her buggy into the mob and rescued Gage, spiriting him away to Benson, Arizona...

There is even more to her history....

Mighty Western Women: Esther Hobart Slack Morris

Esther Hobart Slack Morris (1814-1902) ... she held a tea party in Wyoming presenting issues & concerns to men regarding women voting

From the Wyoming State Archives:

Mrs. Morris has been widely acclaimed as an influential figure in the events that established women’s suffrage in Wyoming. However, her role in promoting suffrage legislation in the territory has been disputed. The record shows that in 1869, during the territory’s first legislative session, William H. Bright introduced a women’s suffrage bill. Although the legislation was received with some humor, it did pass and was signed into law by Governor John A. Campbell, thus according the young territory immediate fame as the first government to grant women the right to vote in all public elections.

Shortly after the legislative session, in February 1870, Wyoming achieved another “first” when three women were appointed to serve as justices of the peace. Esther Morris was selected to complete the term of the South Pass City justice, who had resigned. She is the only one of the three appointees known to have served, thereby winning accord as the first woman to hold a judicial position. Mrs. Morris served 8½ months and handled 26 cases in a manner that was considered a credit to her position. In later years, following first separation from then death of her husband, Ms. Morris lived with her sons. She appeared at a number of women’s rights gatherings and political affairs, though she was apparently not comfortable with making speeches. She died in 1902 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Mrs. Morris eventually became a symbol for the women’s rights movement, and stories of her independent attitudes and support of women’s issues have been circulated. As for the question of who was the main force behind the Women’s Suffrage Act in Wyoming, the verifiable record favors William H. Bright, who introduced the bill. A story that Mrs. Morris had obtained a promise from Bright, also a South Pass City resident, at a tea party to introduce the suffrage bill surfaced decades after the fact and has been commonly repeated. Though this story and any direct involvement by Mrs. Morris in the drafting and introduction of the suffrage bill cannot be substantiated, Esther Morris is commonly regarded as one of the heroines of the women’s suffrage movement. Her name became synonymous with equal rights, fame which led to her being chosen as Wyoming’s representative in Statuary Hall in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Her statue was presented in ceremonies at the Capitol in 1960.

Mighty Western Women: Sacagawea

• Sacagewea (1789-1812) ... led Lewis and Clark’s expedition to find the Pacific Ocean carrying her two month old child on her back ... her common law husband was a piece of work!

From Lewis and Clark Trail .com:

SACAGAWEA the only Native American woman who served as an interpreter and guide for Sacagawea watercolor by Roy Reynolds the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 and 1806.

As a child, she had been taken by members of the Hidatsa Tribe and lived among them. Later she was sold to a French-Canadian trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau.
While the Expedition wintered in the Hidatsa- Mandan Village (1804-1805), they hired Charbonneau as an interpreter for the trip west. Sacajawea, one of Charbonneau wives, and
her baby accompanied the Expedition.

Frontier Women Voted! The Apple Orchard Convention

Apple Orchard Convention: 13 June 1884

• 759 registered women voters in Seattle convened
• decided on their platform
• next election they voted en masse
• they demanded the laws be enforced & houses of prostitution closed down
• they forcefully came against liquor, gambling & prostitution (the major areas of revenue for Seattle)

read ... Bold Spirit by Linda Lawrence Hunt, University of Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho, 2003 ISBN 0-89301-262-9

From "Frontier Women in Washington":

To understand the Western experience, you must realize that the wife of a homesteading family was truly a renaissance woman. She was venerated by both the profane and the profound as the Madonna of the frontier (please do not confuse her with the pop singer). Even if Joe Blow really believed he was escaping problems with women back on the Missouri or the Mississippi, he soon missed his water when he realized how dry the local matrimonial well was. Even some of the most bigoted Democrats wound up taking an Indian squaw as their klootchman, a Chinook Jargon word for today's chauvinistic terms such as the old lady, or maybe the main squeeze. When proper young white women such as the Mercer Girls showed up years later, the klootchman was sometimes pitched back to the newly formed Swinomish reservation. If she was lucky, her husband built a shanty behind the main house where she could baby-sit her progeny. By the time that Washington territory became a state in 1889, many white men had married Indian women in tribal ceremonies. A new state law legitimized such marriages but it also required that the couples remarry in a U.S. civil ceremony, or else the spouse had to be sent away.

The pioneer wife, such as Wilhelminia "Minnie" von Pressentin or Georgetta Savage had to prepare for their families living in remote wilderness for many months of every year. Georgetta must have been frightened nearly to death when she had to load her babies and all their bedding and furniture onto flimsy looking cedar canoes and then be rowed up the Skagit river in pouring rain. Her initial reward was to fall into the drink. Minnie discovered a sewing machine for sale in Mount Vernon before heading upriver to meet her husband, Karl, so she bought it on the spot and it was one of her most valued possessions.

Educated and politically aware women, such as Georgiana Batey and Eliza Van Fleet, must have cheered when the Washington territorial legislature ignored the suffrage restrictions in most states and granted women the right to vote on Nov. 23, 1883. The men learned, too late, how well women could organize, because the 759 registered women voters in Seattle convened an "Apple Orchard Convention" on June 13, 1884, and ran a reform ticket for the city council. They voted en masse and their reform ticket of "sober, honest and efficient" candidates all won.

Comparing the Frontier Victorians with the Fragile Femmes

Victorian Healthcare

1st: Only the "rich" could afford to go to the doctor

2nd: Many considered doctor appointments a point of prestige

3rd: From the various accounts I have read, husbands did not care

To me ... rightly or wrongly ... these visits to the doctor were ... uh, er, uhm ... a type of promiscuous behavior that was condoned by society (rightly or wrongly I consider the treatment at the time promiscuous behavior) [Based on how society viewed things then]

It would seem that there really is a correlation between physical/emotional/sexual abuse and poverty...

(no matter what culture, time frame, or society)

being poor promotes stress ... fear ... worries ... major problems

some folks respond to issues associated with poverty or perceived poverty with abuse

depending on the degree of poverty ... or the perceived notion of being poor (called "relative poverty") ... and a person's ability to handle stress has (in my mind) a direct correlation to the degree of abuse

I also think it relates to "culture" ... poor women in the cities would frequently physically fight back (cuz it generally meant their lives)

Frontier Women

Victorian women in our West could hold their own ... remember, Annie Oakley was not that unusual ... many women had to hunt to provide for their families ... Annie Oakley was only unusual to the extent that she made her living by trick shooting, her connection with Buffalo Bill, and her ability to promote herself in the marketplace

Men thought twice about being abusive to frontier women ... also, many American men truly held their wives in very high esteem and treated them how they would wish to be treated (i.e., Western men tended to not listen to the goofy rules from England or the East ... they were not in to prestige and status like those in the East)

~ from the notes of Lady Victorian Historian

Mighty Western Women: Libbie Custer

• Libbie Custer, wife of the famous general ... talented writer who chronicled her frontier adventures in books making her a wealthy woman

From Wikipedia:

After her husband’s column was wiped out at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in June 1876, many in the press, Army, and government criticized Custer for blundering into a massacre. President Ulysses S. Grant publicly blamed Custer for the disaster. Fearing that her husband was to be made a scapegoat by history, Libbie launched a one woman campaign to rehabilitate her husband's image. She began writing articles and making speaking engagements praising the glory of her martyred husband. Her three books, Boots and Saddles, (1885), Following the Guidon (1890); and Tenting on the Plains, (1893) were brilliant pieces of propaganda aimed at glorifying her dead husband’s memory. Though generally considered to be largely factually accurate, they were clearly slanted in Custer's favor.

Her efforts were largely successful. The image of a steely Custer leading his men against overwhelming odds only to be wiped out while defending their position to the last man became as much a part of American lore as the Alamo. It would not be until the late 20th century, more than a half century after her death, that many historians began to take a second look at Custer’s actions leading up to the battle and found much to criticize.

Mighty Western Women: "Trudy" Barcelo Santa Fe

Gertrudis Barcelo Santa Fe "Gambling Queen" kept her maiden name, owned her own casino, & helped the United States win the Mexican-American War.


Barcelo's wealthy parents saw that she received an education, and in the early 1820s the family moved to a small village just south of Albuquerque, which at the time was part of Mexico. As a result of her upbringing and education, Barcelo grew to be an unusually independent and financially astute woman. When she married at age 23, she—contrary to custom—retained her own property, her right to make contracts, and her maiden name. She and her husband moved to the Santa Fe area in 1825 and established a highly profitable game-of-chance operation near a mining camp. Several years later Barcelo bought her own casino in Santa Fe. The opulent casino soon became a favourite with Santa Fe's fashionable society, with Barcelo, who became known as “La Tules,” presiding as one of the dealers. As Santa Fe was a trade hub, Barcelo further increased her wealth and status through shrewd trade deals and investments.

Mighty Western Women: Bridget "Biddy" Mason

Bridget "Biddy" Mason (1818-1891) a former Mississippi slave who gained her freedom for self & children in the 1850s; landowner, entrepreneur, and philanthropist in California; established the 1st black church in Los Angeles & engineered a series of shrewd real estate deals bringing her & her family wealth; made enough money to set up several homes for the homeless, sick, and old

From Wikipedia:

Bridget ("Biddy") Mason (born August 15, 1818 in Hancock County, Georgia - died January 15, 1891 in Los Angeles, California) was an African American nurse, and a California real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Mason worked in Los Angeles as a nurse and midwife. Saving carefully, she was one of the first African Americans to purchase land in the city. As a businesswoman she amassed a small fortune of nearly $300,000, which she shared generously with charities. She was instrumental in founding a traveler's aid center, an elementary school for black children, and was a founding member of First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the city's first and oldest black church.

Mighty Western Women: Charlie Parkhurst

“Charlie” Parkhurst drove a stagecoach for twenty years: "The Finest Stagecoach driver in the West."

From Wikipedia:

Parkhurst retired from driving some years later in Watsonville, California. Charles Darkey Parkurst is listed in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on October 17, 1868 under the official poll list, making Parkhurst the first woman to vote in the United States...

When Parkhurst died in 1879, the neighbors came to the cabin to lay out the body for burial, and they discovered that the renowned stagecoach driver was a woman. Rheumatism and cancer of the tongue were listed as causes of death, but the examining doctor, called in by the astounded neighbors, definitely established that Charlie had been a mother; a trunk in the house contained a baby's dress.

More Voting Freedoms for Women

USA Vote for Women

It would seem that in the United States the Americans did not succomb to popular man-made notions ..

New Jersey
Under the Articles of Confederation (following War of Independence) ... the only voting requirement was that one had to have £50 (~USD250) worth of cash or property ... election laws referred to voters as "he or she"; 1790=law made specifically to include women; 1807 law made to exclude women cuz they made themselves objectional to professional politicians; 1844 constitution banned women from voting

• Wyoming Territory
1869; women vote; 1890 Wyoming admitted to Union;
1st to let women vote

• Utah Territory
1870; women vote; 1887, the United States Congress disenfranchised Utah women with the Edmunds–Tucker Act; 1895, Utah adopted a constitution restoring women’s vote

• Colorado
1st state where men voted to give women the right to vote

anybody wanna add to this list?

It would seem that during the Victorian Era the further West folks went the more freedom all had ... including women ... and the West was known for its morality (overall) being higher than in the east (See: Louis L'Amour)

There are some who don't believe women should be voting today. And if they do then they should only vote for who their husband tells them to. In my experience, these tend to be the same folks who want us to return to "Victorian Days."

this is bizarre ...

women are citizens in this culture ...

our ancestors thought it would be a good thing for women to vote ...

so sad ...

~ from the notes of Lady Victorian Historian

Not an Easy Life for Women on the American Frontier

Hardships of Covered Wagon Journey Across Plains Recalled By Pioneer

(Written by Mary Frances Patton Welch, a 90 year old Ashland pioneer ... article tells of the family 1862 journey across the plains with her grandfather, captain of the emigrant train of 100 persons and of their perils and adventures enroute).

Our family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. John Parham, who were my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. William Patton who were my parents, my little sister Ettie and myself. Sister Annie was born on the way, near American Falls on the Snake River in Idaho. Mother thought she would get through the trip before the stork arrived, but as there was a doctor in our emigrant train, she and baby were taken care of. When the baby was only three days old we had a fight with Indians.

Women out west treated MUCH differently ...

[We] had to pass through a canyon where the women drove and the men fought all the way through.

The younger generation does not realize the hardships the pioneers had ... We children had to walk two miles to school and two miles back each day. There were wild cattle, rattlesnakes, ringsnakes, and once in a while we heard a panther scream. There was plenty of game such as wild hogs, turkeys, quail, plenty of fish in the streams so our meat did not cost anything ... We girls helped to drive the cattle. We had no saddles, only surcingles and blankets for our horses. We were several weeks on the trip. ... In some places they had to cut down small trees and tie them to the back of the wagons to use for brakes.

We milked some of the cows, put the cream in a chum and by the end of a day's travel we would have several pounds of butter-the motion of the wagon churned it. Our bread was baked in a dutch oven.

Voting in Colonial America?

Have you ever heard of Lydia Chapin Taft (1712-1778), the widow Josiah Taft, was the first woman voter in colonial America?

Her vote was important with respect to the French and Indian War.

Her first vote was at Uxbridge, Massachusetts, on 30 October 1756 appropriating funds for the regiments battling in the French & Indian War. She voted again 1758 (reduce her highway rates) and in 1765 (change her school district).

Those Dreadful Women Homesteaders

1862 Homestead Act:
freehold title to 160 acres of undeveloped land outside of the original 13 colonies.

New law required three steps:

• file an application
• improve the land
• file for deed of title

Eligibility: Anyone, including freed slaves, who had never taken up arms against the U.S. Government could file an application and improvements to a local land office

signed by Abraham Lincoln 20 May 1862


• 1.6 million homesteads granted
• 270 million acres were privatized between 1862 and 1964

Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 ended homesteading (except for Alaska where it ended in 1986.)

Women took advantage of this opportunity, too.

Tillie Olson (1885-1918) aka Matilda Olson; Private Secretary at O'Connor and Goldberg Shoe Store in Chicago; Homesteader in Devil's Lake in North Dakota

The Chrisman sisters near Goheen settlement on Lieban Creek, Custer County, Nebraska, 1886

Julia Stockton stands in front of her tar-paper homesteading shack in this photo taken in the early 1900s.