This Women’s History Month, Read Like a Pioneer

Ever wonder what a 19th century pioneer woman would read? She would definitely need practical skills, and a little research on women in the West wouldn't hurt. Westward migration allowed women to do things uncommon in the more populated and restrictive East, like own businesses, prospect for gold and farm. Here are some books about and for women pioneers. 

A pioneer woman might want some historical context when planning her expedition. Trials of the Earth is the memoir of Mary Hamilton, who at 18 married a 30-year-old Englishman, the manager of a lumber camp in the Mississippi delta. Born in 1867, Hamilton lived a hardscrabble existence, moving from camp to camp, raising children and cooking for her husband's workers. Turned down for publication in 1931, the memoir resurfaced in the 1990s due to the efforts of a younger friend of Hamilton's, who encouraged her to record her story toward the end of her life.

Jo Ann Levy's They Saw the Elephant draws from letters and diaries to recreate the experience of women who earned their living from and around the California Gold Rush. Their professions and lives were varied: They ran boarding houses, mined alongside the men, were school teachers, actresses, temperance workers and, in one case, a stagecoach driver. The phrase "Seeing the elephant" references the romantic nature of the journey to the California goldmines; an exotic quest. 

A pioneer woman might want to get some tips about living off the grid before setting out with a wagon train. Twelve by Twelve by William Powers, a book about living in a small cabin without electricity or running water, would be just the thing.

For the urban pioneer woman, Kelly Coyne's The Urban Homestead explains how to grow food, compost and reduce reliance on toxic chemicals.

101 Easy Homemade Products for your Skin, Health & Home seems like a must-read for a pioneer woman. Inside you'll find recipes for natural cleaners, soaps and even pet products.

Without electronic devices, or even electricity, a pioneer woman might need a fun and useful craft project to while away those long days on the prairie. Enter The Complete Candlemaker.

What would you read before embarking on a pioneering project of your own? Happy Women's History Month!

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