Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly [OPQ 9 (Summer 1989): 174-1841 .Copyright 1989 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska—Lincoln.


Women settlers on the Great Plains frontier, as on other frontiers, carried the primary responsibility for home and family. Not only wives and mothers, but all plainswomen, young or old, single or married, white or black, employed outside the home or not, were expected to attend to, or help with, domestic duties. Thus, women living on their own, with storekeeper fathers, with farmer husbands, or in any other circumstances devoted a large part of their time and energy to providing their households with food, clothing, and other goods or services, to maintaining houses both as family homes and as women's workplaces, and to promoting the general welfare of family members. In every one of these areas, plainswomen had to deal on a daily basis with the particular limitations imposed upon them by the harsh and demanding plains environment. This article discusses how the Plains affected women's duties and concerns and how the majority of women triumphed over these exigencies. 1