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Women of the Northern Plains: Gender and Settlement on the Homestead Frontier, 1870-1930

By Barbara Handy-Marchello

St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2005, 205 pages, Softcover.


In Women of the Northern Plains, Barbara Handy-Marchello tells the stories of the unsung heroes of North Dakota’s settlement era: the farm women. As the men struggled to raise and sell wheat, the women focused on barnyard labor--raising chickens and cows and selling eggs and butter--to feed and clothe their families and maintain their households through booms and busts. Handy-Marchello focuses on the roles of women in this pioneer generation--their changing status from equal partnership to subordination, from being valued for their productive work to being glorified for their reproductive function.

Enlivened by interviews with pioneer families as well as diaries, memoirs, and other primary sources, Women of the Northern Plains uncovers the significant and changing roles of Dakota farm women who were true partners to their husbands, their efforts marking the difference between success and failure for their families.

Barbara Handy-Marchello was a history professor at the University of North Dakota. She has written articles and conducted public programs throughout the Upper Midwest on rural women.


Women of the Northern Plains: Gender and Settlement on the Homestead Frontier, 1870-1930

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