This assignment contains fifteen articles from the book Writing the Range, which are arranged and formatted as an annotated bibliography.
Perales, Marian, “Empowering ‘The Welder’: A Historical Survey of Women of Color in the West”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 21-41. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
In Marian Perales’ well researched essay, Perales makes a powerful argument that women historians of color have had significant impacts on the way in which women of various ethnic backgrounds of the past are now depicted in historical studies. According to Perales’ thesis, “ Challenging elite history and universal sisterhood” Perales makes a very compelling point that “if one looks at history through the eyes of the majority of women, the poor and the laboring classes, a very different picture of society emerges[one that is much more complete] for elite eyes take their world as the standard and assume that all society exists, or should exist, in their image” Perales does an excellent job of providing numerous well researched examples throughout her essay which aptly support her thesis, and show that past historians who depicted women of color based on their own stereotypical standards, failed to accurately describe these women’s histories.
Perales’ essay would provide history instructors a valuable classroom resource which would aid discussions on the possible misrepresented characterizations of past female ethnic historical figures. Perales’ essay also provides scholars of ethnic, women, and historical studies a much better understanding so that a clearer historical picture can then be allowed to develop.
Marian Perales does a fine job of presenting her argument of how female historians of color have changed the way that historical studies are written today, while challenging old historical stereotypes.
Pascoe, Peggy, “Race, Gender and Intercultural Relations: The Case of Intercultural Marriage”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 69-80. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
Peggy Pascoe’s research examines social constructions based upon interracial marriage. Pascoe’s thesis is that “the phenomenon of interracial marriage involves the making and remaking of notions of race, gender, and culture in the individual lives as well as at the level of social and political policy” Pascoe’s research takes the position that as the categorical meanings of terms such as race and gender develop and come to represent new meaning, then so too does our understanding of society. Pascoe’s position is that by studying interracial marriage, scholars can gain a greater understanding of “the interconnection between race and gender”, and social construction, but first scholars must agree upon defining the term ‘culture’ so that a consistent application to history can be applied. Pascoe’s research is filled with numerous examples which support her position, and makes a compelling argument that dismisses old paradigms. Pascoe research argues that as categories such as race and gender evolve, then those categories have little meaning and render research constrained.
Pascoe’s writing is compelling, and when her theories are applied to a historical narrative they emphasize to the reader that as newer meanings to older terms for understanding of race, gender, and culture come to light, historians need to continually ask themselves these new questions when examining the past. Pascoe’s writing emphasizes that historian’s need to be especially wary when examining culture, and to understand the dynamics involved between the cultures in power, and how that culture impacts the powerless.
Pascoe’s research is enlightening, and provides an excellent tool for researchers studying interracial or women’s history.
Leyva, Yolanda Chavez, “A Poor Widow Burdened with Children”: Widows and Land in Colonial New Mexico. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 85-96. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
In A Poor Widow Burdened with Children, Yolanda Chavez Leyva examines the vulnerability of widowed Spanish Mexican women, but also the strategies employed by these women for survival. Women in colonial Spanish America were legally covered by the concept of patria postestad, which meant that they were legally protected by their father until age twenty five or married, at which point they were protected by their husbands. Widowhood severed this status, but under Spanish colonial law widows acquired half of their husband’s estates. Land was a vital aspect of a widows estate, since widows often had very little other financial opportunities to fall back to. Widows according to Leyva relied upon a couple of survival strategies, and had no compulsions against calling upon the legal system when necessary for help. One such strategy that Leyva discusses is the reciprocity strategy, where widows in their wills to daughters and granddaughters would bequeath land in exchange for being taking care of. Another strategy employed by women included the status of “good” women or daughters in order to claim some form of legal protection even when one was not related to the descendant.
Leyva’s research provides some valuable insight into the lives, vulnerability, and survival strategies employed by women living in Spanish colonialNew Mexicoand how they were able to use their vulnerability status for gaining a measure of control in their lives.
Leyva does an excellent job presenting her position and provides some very clear examples to support her claims. A Poor Widow Burdened with Children is a well written and well researched history that provides a different prospective of women in Spanish colonialNew Mexico, which scholars of women studies and Western history would find useful.
Thrush, Coll-Peter and Robert H. Keller. “I See What I have Done: The Life and Murder Trial of Xwelas, a S’Kallam Woman”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 172-187. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
In I See What I Have Done, Coll-Peter Thrush and Robert Keller’s research follows the life and subsequent murder trial of the Indian woman Xwelas, who is accused of killing her third husband George Phillips in the early 19th century Pacific Northwest. The story highlights the complex relationship that existed between Native Americans and White society offering “insight into ethnic, gender, and legal relations” Thrush and Keller’s writing points out some of the dynamics that led to Indian and White unions which often resulted in improved political diplomacy, and social mobility between both groups. The remarkable point that Thrush and Keller bring up however is that the murder story of Xwelas seeks to dispel a popular myth that Christian pioneers were responsible for bringing civilization and morality to the frontier. The stereotypical depiction of pious Whites and savage Indians is shattered in Thrush and Keller’s research and sheds light on the “realities of frontier experience”.
I See What I Have Done is a well written compelling read for anyone wishing to gain further insight into Native American, sociological, or Western history studies.
The authors work provides still more material for debate, providing a closer look at Indian and White societal relations shattering previous myths. The story of Xwelas does much to lay bare the realities of this society, by focusing on all of the mitigating circumstances which led to the murder of George Phillips, and would provide a valuable classroom discussion topic for exploring other Indian/White unions throughout history.
Padilla, Genaro. “Yo Sola Aprendi: Mexican Woman’s Personal Narratives from Nineteenth-Century California”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 188-201. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
Genaro Padilla’s Yo Sola Aprendi, is a reexamination of oral histories of Spanish Mexican women that were obtained in the 1870’s. The fascinating position that Padilla’s research uncovers from these oral histories, is that these women’s histories reflect a markedly different perspective of what life was like during the turbulent 1840’s when Spanish Mexico lost its independence. The men’s histories from this patriarchal society reflect a certain harmonious time, while the women reported a much more tenuous existence that became greatly exasperated with the takeover.
Another interesting discovery that Padilla’s essay focuses upon is that the women’s narratives to a much greater degree, indicate a willingness to discuss issues of an intercultural and gender related variety then that of the men’s narratives. Furthermore Padilla makes the point that despite these women spending their lives within the confines of a patriarchal society, they still maintained a substantive individual identity.
Padilla’s research by focusing upon the lives of individual histories adds a real authenticity and human face to Spanish Mexican women living through the American conquest of colonial Spanish Mexico. Padilla’s research is well written and provides readers with a greater perspective of what individuals living through the American conquest were really experiencing, but more importantly it provides the reader with what life was like for these people both prior to and following this momentous event.
A will written piece of research that American, and Western, historical scholars as well as those studying women’s history would find useful.
White-Sparks, Annette. “Beyond the Stereotypes: Chinese Pioneer Women in the American West”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 258-273. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
Annette White-Sparks in her essay Beyond the Stereotypes uses a combination of historical sources and stories of Chinese immigrant women collected by the writer Sui Sin Far, to move beyond stereotypes and tell the fascinating experiences of this very guarded group of women. White-Sparks believes that in order to accurately understand the history of the Western American, it is vital to understand all the characters of that history, and pioneer Chinese women were an integral part of the West. White-Sparks’ research looks at why these Chinese women leftChina, and what methods they employed as survival strategies once they arrived inAmerica. White-Sparks’ research finds that a proportionately large number of these women turned to prostitution, and became indentured slaves in order to survive, while still a smaller percentage of these women became Chinese immigrant wives. White-Sparks points out in her essay that regardless of their new found status inAmerica, very few of these women fit into the stereotypical mold of the exotic “China doll-like” image. The Chinese pioneer women of nineteenth centuryAmerica, faced dehumanizing and hostile conditions when they arrived inAmerica, a condition only lessened by the subordination which had been indoctrinated into them since an early age inChina. White-Sparks notes that one of the “most widely known secret[s] in the American West in the mid-nineteenth century” was Chinese slavery, and her research provides a fascinating glimpse at this often overlooked aspect of Western history.
After reading White-Sparks’ Beyond the Stereotypes it is clear that the varied experiences of these pioneering women defy stereotypes, and yet their stories add much to the history of the American West.
Esheverria, Jeronima. “Euskaldun Andreak: Basque Women As Hard Workers, Hoteleras, and Matriarchs”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 298-310. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
Jeronima Esheverria’s essay Euskaldun Andreak, is a fascinating look at the central role that Basque women played in Basque society during early twentieth century America. Basque women according to Esheverria’s research performed disproportionately more work than their male counterparts, and in many cases assumed a type of matriarchal position within Basque society. This matriarchal role developed as a result of the ostatuak or boardinghouse which served as a home away from home for Basque immigrants in the American West. Central to the ostatuak was the Basque woman’s role, a role in which the woman essentially ran these establishments, and consequently the ostatuak became the major social institution of Basques in the American West. As an institution the ostatuak served as the transition point for Basques learning American culture, and preserving their own. This transition and preservation of Basque community would not have been possible without the efforts of Basque women.
Esheverria’s essay Euskaldun Andreak is a well written example of Western American history which highlights the Basque community. Esheverria’s essay provides further insight into women of the West and proves once again that old stereotypes fail to address this segment of population that was part of Western history.
Esheverria has utilized an abundance of research for her essay and this could prove useful for history, sociological, or anthropological scholars studying women’s roles in early twentieth century America.
Mercier, Laurie. “We Are Women Irish: Gender, Class, Religious, and Ethnic Identity in Anaconda, Montana”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 311-333. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
Laurie Mercier’s We Are Women Irish, is a fascinating look at how Irish immigrant women in the mining town ofAnanconda,Montana made a distinctive mark on their community by creating a uniquely Irish American community which was shaped by ethnic, religious, gender, and cultural roots. Mercier through research and Irish oral histories documents a unique pattern amongst Irish immigrant women living in Anaconda. Irish women unlike many other ethnic immigrant groups came toAmerica in numbers equal to and surpassing men as individual’s intent on pursuing their own economic futures. Mercier’s research focuses on the critical role Irish immigrant women played in supporting the mining community of Anaconda by providing lodging, food, family fiscal management, guidance and an Irish network that was vital to the large Irish community. The Irish women were also fundamentally responsible for uniquely transitioning and adapting an Irish culture to the American West, and Mercier adeptly demonstrates this through numerous examples in her writing.
Mercier’s research may be unique because of the isolation of Anaconda, Montana, but Mercier’s research still provides an excellent source of study at Irish assimilation in the twentieth century, while still demonstrating a distinct plan that effectively instills ethnic pride.
Mercier’s We Are Women Irish is a well written and well researched essay on Irish assimilation and the fundamental role that women played in this history that relies on an extensive use of oral histories and public records.
Ruiz, Vicki L. “Dead Ends or Gold Mines: Using Missionary Records in Mexican Women’s History”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 354-371. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
Vicki Ruiz’s Dead Ends or Gold Mines, is an essay that examines the methodology involved for reviewing institutional records, missionary reports, and pamphlets, for the purpose of determining the experiences and attitudes of women of color. In Ruiz’s study, she examines the records of the social services organization Rose Gregory Houchen Settlement House, which provided services to the Mexican community of El Paso Texas. Houchen House in much the same vein as the historian Sara Deutsch chronicled in her book No Separate Refuge was intent on a program of protestant proselytization and Americanization. Ruiz’s research uncovers much about the mindset of the Houchen House missionaries from their writings, and also what services the Mexican women’s community actually utilized. According to Ruiz’s research it was apparent that the community was selective of the services they used, and Ruiz notes the attempts at “Christian Americanization” made by the missionaries of Houchen House were for the most part unsuccessful.
The Mexican community utilized the services they needed from Houchen House which they viewed as a blessing, but as Ruiz notes in her research the women missionaries of Houchen House show by their own writings and reports that they had a very misguided ideal about what was best for their clients.
Ruiz’s Dead Ends or Gold Mines is a well written and well researched essay that provides historians studying twentieth centuryAmerica more than just another research base of information, instead it provides historians with a new methodology that can help them gain further incite into past institutions and events.
Emerich, Lisa E. “Save the Babies! American Indian Women, Assimilation Policy, and Scientific Motherhood, 1912-1918”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 393-409. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
Lisa Emerich’s Save the Babies!, essay examines the Bureau of Indians Affairs (BIA) program instituted from 1912-1918 which sought to improve Indian infant mortality. Emerich’s research in much the same vein as Vicki Ruiz’s Dead Ends or Gold Mines looks at BIA records written by BIA personnel that assesses the effectiveness of their efforts. The basis of the BIA’s program of improving Indian infant mortality, centered on the “undercutting of traditional patterns of (Indian) family life” and substituting those with Euro-American models of science and motherhood. Ruiz argues in her essay that the BIA’s plan at improving infant mortality by substituting westernized models of science and motherhood “became the new tool to promote Americanization”
The success of the program and the records detailing the program that exist today have all been written by the BIA personnel involved with the program, and like Vicki Ruiz’s Dead Ends or Gold Mines, seem to reveal more about the BIA’s participants and their own racial attitudes than those of their clients.
Lisa Emerich’s Save the Babies!, provides another good source of research material for scholars wishing to study Western, Native American, or sociological history.
Lisa Emerich’s essay would also serve as lively discussion topic in a classroom setting wishing to explore alternate ways at solving Native American issues while still preserving traditional values.
Matsumoto, Valerie. “Desperately Seeking Deidre: Gender Roles, Multicultural Relations, and Nisei Woman Writers of the 1930’s”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 461-474. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
Valerie Matsumoto’s Desperately Seeking Deidre, is a fascinating essay that looks at the different Nisei writers of the 1930’s, in particular the advice columnist Mary Oyama Mittwer who wrote an advice column for a Japanese paper during the 1930’s. Matsumato position is that by looking at the type of topics discussed by people such as Mittwer in her advice columns, historians can learn much about the difficulties that the Nisei experienced within American society as they navigated between two cultures. These difficulties included complex issues such as interracial relations, and how to reconcile conflicts that dealt with issues of marriage and career, but most importantly the topic of assimilation.
Oyama’s advice column was “earnestly interested in promoting better race understanding”, and historians wishing to gain a better perspective of what pressures the Nisei faced as they navigated the treacherous waters of two cultures would benefit greatly by following Valerie Matsumoto’s lead. Matsumoto’s research and source material on what issues second generation Japanese felt were important, will help researchers gain a much better understanding of how the Nisei segment of society sought to shape their own individual ethnic identities.
Valerie Matsumoto’s essay is well written and her use of photographs of some of her subjects adds a real touch of authenticity. One of the most important aspects of Matsumoto’s essay is that some of the subject material discussed within her essay brings up further topics for discussion on the issue of how American regional influences impacted and challenged developing Nisei culture.
Rodriquez-Estrada, Alicia I. “Dolores Del Rio and Lupe Velez: Images on and off the Screen, 1925-1944”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 475-492. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
In Alicia Rodriquez-Estrada’s essay on Dolores Del Rio and Lupe Velez, the author examines the careers of these two Mexican movie stars, and studies how the imagined identities of these two women were depicted in their film roles. Rodriquez-Estrada makes the argument in her essay that these two Mexican actresses and their film careers were the direct result of the constructs of race, class, and gender as construed by theHollywoodculture of the time period. Both of these actresses were depicted in film, in a stereotypical Mexican way that was developed by the Anglo film industry. The two choices that exited for these women consisted of the sophisticated femme’s fatale as in the case ofDel Rio, or the fiery Latin spitfire as in the case of Velez. Rodriquez-Estrada’s essay makes a compelling argument for comparing the film roles to the long established perception that Anglo society used for judging Mexican women. The racist roots used to judge Mexican women has a long established basis in American history that has depicted Mexican women as either “good”, meaning of elite Californians, or “bad”, meaning of the mass of Mexican women or Indian. Both these actresses’ film roles seemed to epitomize a stereotypical portrayal that held a similar good versus bad connotation much like that prejudicial view held by much of Anglo society.
Rodriquez-Estrada’s essay makes an intriguing study of how the career paths of these two actresses was shaped by Anglo influenced stereotypes, and what these actresses did both to reinforce this image, and how they responded to the image once it was created. Rodriquez-Estrada’s essay is an interesting read, and helps historians understand how Anglo influenced stereotypes, andHollywoodhelped to perpetuate a false image of Mexican women in American society.
Moore, Shirley Ann Wilson. “Not in Somebody’s Kitchen: African American Women Workers in Richmond, California, and the Impact of World War II”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 517-532. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
In Shirley Ann Wilson Moore’s Not in Somebody’s Kitchen, Moore’s essay focuses upon the upward employment transformation that became possible in wartime Richmond, California, for African American women as a result of the wartime industries. Specifically Moore looks at how African American women as a result of the upward employment opportunities were able to break out of the “cycle of low-paying, low-status factory or domestic work”. Moore’s essay also chronicles how a small segment of these women went on to establish and run some of the African American blues clubs that flourished in Richmond during the 1940-50’s time period. These enterprising women besides seizing upon a viable economic opportunity as Moore notes also allowed their clubs to function as a type of social institution for the African American community in much the same manner as the Basque boardinghouse in Jeronima Esheverria’s essay Euskaldun Andreak. Moore points out that club owner Margaret Starks came to epitomize this social institution aspect by not only utilizing her blues club as clearinghouse of information for the African American community, but she also was instrumental in helping the Black community by trying to overcome racial barriers. Starks was able to use her blues club success as a springboard for positive change within the Black community by printingRichmond’s first Black newspaper, and then being elected as secretary of theRichmond chapter of the NAACP.
Shirley Ann Wilson Moore’s Not in Somebody’s Kitchen, is a well written examination of the transformative effect that the wartime industry had on African American women. The momentum of this transformation was pivotal toward expanding the options for African American women, and subverting racial, class, and sexual barriers that were previously hindering their economic prospects.
Not in Somebody’s Kitchen is well written and researched essay that scholars interested in African American, or Women’s history would find useful.
Pardo, Mary. “Mexican American Women Grassroots Community Activists: Mother’s of East Los Angeles”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 553-568. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
Mary Pardo’s essay Mexican American Women Grassroots Community Activists: Mother’s of East Los Angeles, illustrates how Mexican American women in East Los Angeles have “transformed networks and resources based on family and culture into political assets to defend the quality of urban life” Pardo’s research examines how the activist group Mother’s of East Los Angeles (MELA) has defied political science theory that professed people of a lower socioeconomic strata such older people, a high school education or less would be far less likely to organize and engage in any meaningful type of activism. Pardo’s essay focuses on just how the community activist group MELA was formed, and how it has come to use the very characteristics which political science indicators have long predicted were barriers to activism, such as class identity, as an impetus toward strength and political activism.
Pardo’s essay is well written and relies upon a wealth of bibliographical sources to support her position.
Pardo’s Mexican American Women Grassroots Community Activists: Mother’s of East Los Angeles essay provides a great source of discussion for redefining the characteristics of activists groups, and would make a great resource for sociologists, anthropologists, and historians.
Pardo’s essay examines how the experiences of MELA’s founders were based upon a history of responsibility usually associated with mothers concerning children’s welfare. She makes an excellent point in describing how this part of the community that received little notice in the past, could serve as a foundation for having a transformative effect on a community wide basis.
Bryan, Terri. “Southeast Asian Refugee Women, War, and Resettlement”. In Writing the Range, edited by Elizabeth Jameson and Susan Armitage, 553-568. London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997
Terri Bryan’s essay Southeast Asian Refugee Women, War, and Resettlement, is an examination of the resettlement issues that Southeast Asian immigrants faced following the Vietnam War in the cities ofSeattle,San Diego,Albuquerque,Dallas, andDenver.Bryan’s research focuses on the effect that prior culture, class, religion, as well as the period of immigration had on the resettlement process for these immigrants. The point that is most unique inBryan’s examination of the Southeast Asian resettlement process is the prominent role that theU.S. federal government played. TheU.S. government’s role in the Southeast Asian resettlement process signals the first time that the federal government became actively involved in immigrant resettlement. Prior immigrant groups always relied upon moralistic reformers or urban bosses to aid in this transition, but the federal government’s Southeast Asian resettlement program beginning in 1975, implemented a cultural sensitivity that would serve as a model for subsequent immigration adaptation programs.
Bryan’s research examines the effectiveness of the immigration adaptation programs along with the unintended outcomes that accompanied the government efforts because asBryanstates, these “programs persisted in viewing refugees as passive clients rather than active participants”. The final conclusion however thatBryanis able to arrive at is that despite the different mitigating factors faced by Southeast Asian immigrants and especially the women immigrants, they have survived and continue to persist.
Bryandoes a remarkable job in gathering and presenting her research, relying on primary sources, government documents and oral interviews from a plethora of other sources.
Bryan’s essay Southeast Asian Refugee Women, War, and Resettlement would make a great resource for sociologists, anthropologists, and historians whose interests lie in studying immigration, and assimilation.