Colorado Women: A History

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Colorado Women: A History
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Colorado Women: A History
Pascoe, Pat
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Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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Colorado Women: A History | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:38:52 AM] Home Colorado Women: A HistoryColorado Women: A HistorySubmitted by nwharton on 12-17-2012 10:47 PMAuthor: Gail M. Beaton Publishing: Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2012. 380 pages. Black-and-white photographs, index, notes, further readings. 6 x 9. $34.95 hardcover. Reviewer: Pat Pascoe Women get short shrift in most histories of Colorado. Gail M. Beaton tries to rectify that in Colorado Women: A History which focuses on minority women, including Hispanics, Native Americans, and lesbians with a special emphasis on the poor. Except for the first chapter, which is devoted to prehistory, and the last chapter, the book is divided roughly into decades, though sometimes Beaton includes a second chapter on the same decade with a different focus. As the book moves closer to the present day and the population of Colorado grows, it becomes more difficult to cover all the important women, especially in the last chapter, which runs from 1961 to the present. Pioneer life is not romanticized in the book. Death, disease, and weather disasters plague the women Beaton profiles, which is probably an accurate portrayal of the reality for these women. One of the better experiences is that of Annie Green of the Union Colony, who writes: After securing several lots in the new town, we pitched our tent, which was almost daily blown to the ground. To say that I was homesick, discouraged and lonely, is but a faint description of my feelings. Afterward the Greens moved into a cabin abandoned by a man who went back to his wife who had wisely remained in her happy home according to Green (29). In a short biography of Frances Wisebart Jacobs, later in the nineteenth century, the emphasis on dirt and disease continues. Beaton describes Jacobss daily rounds: Walking the clay-packed, windy streets, she administered to those she found huddled in doorways and in the dark recesses of alleys. Upon entering a shanty, she found sickness and abject poverty. Not all her patients were consumptives, but after seeing so many people sick with any number of diseases, she could quickly recognize the ragged cough and gaunt face of impending death. Often there was little she could do (97). EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanWhile on the Dominguez-Escalante expedition in 1776, Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco drew the first map of Colorado.


Colorado Women: A History | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:38:52 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us In Chapter 6, Beaton compares the backbreaking work of miners wives to that of middle class women. The typical miners wife kept a garden and raised animals to help feed the family. She rose early to prepare two meals for her husband, a large breakfast and a lunch for his dinner pail. She prepared three meals a day for her family and probably for boarders, too, and she might take in laundry as well. Even family celebrations meant extra work for her. She worked eighteen to twenty hours each day before she collapsed into bed (147). Discrimination against women in the work force in the pioneer days sometimes took the form of denial. Beaton reports that in the 1870 census not one female was listed as employed in agriculture, although numerous diaries and receipts show that women ran farms, sold agricultural products, and raised animals for income (28). However, that oversight was rectified in the 1880 census. Beaton points out that gaining the right to vote was a bright moment in womens history: Although the first two decades of the twentieth century were filled with tragedy, violence, heartbreak, and toil, by 1920 the nations women finally had something to celebrate. Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment giving women throughout the United States the right vote (173). Beatons story of Ku Klux Klan women in the 1920s is particularly interesting. The prerequisites for membership were chilling. The Limon chapter, one of thirty-five in the state, was open only to true and loyal citizens of the United States of America, being white, female, Gentile person[s] of temperate habits, sound in mind and [believing] in the Christian religion, the maintenance of White Supremacy, and the principles of pure Americanism (185). Dr. Minnie C. T. Love, a Klan member, was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 1920 and then again in 1924. Klanswomen Josie J. Jackson and Metta Gremmels were also elected to the statehouse (185). There are brief biographies of lesser known women in Beatons book, such as Elizabeth Schroeder Kletzsch, appointed regional director of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in Denver during the Depression, and of the better known Josephine Roche and state senator Eudochia Bell Smith. This is a collection of very short narratives, moving, for example from the preservation of Mesa Verde to the Negro Womans Club home. The chapter division into decades sometimes fractures the narrative of an individuals life and makes the reading somewhat disjointed. But this is an excellent book with which to begin research on Colorado women of any period because the footnotes lead to many resources and the book includes a lengthy bibliography. It is a good beginning in appreciating the important contributions of Colorado women. Reviewer Info: Pat Pascoe, a former Colorado state senator, is the author of Helen Ring Robinson: Colorado Senator and Suffragist ( Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2011).