About the Author
Dr. Barbara Handy-Marchello taught Women's History and the American West at the University of North Dakota for fifteen years, retiring in 2006. She earned her M.A. in American History at North Dakota State University and her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa (1996). She was born in Illinois and lived in Colorado and Wyoming before moving to North Dakota in 1980. She is married to Marty Marchello and together they enjoy an outdoor life in the fields, woods, and streams of North Dakota.
Women of the Northern Plains won the Caroline Bancroft Prize for the best book in Western History in 2005 awarded by the Western History Association. Barbara continues her research and writing in Bismarck, where she has been a consultant for the State Historical Society of North Dakota on several projects.
Women of the Northern Plains
Women of the Northern Plains: Gender and Settlement on the Homestead Frontier, 1870-1930. Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2005.
This book is about the lives and contributions of
pioneer women from the very beginnings of white settlement to the time of the Great Depression. As a picture of their lives emerges, readers see clearly how women worked beside their men, carrying half and often more of the work load that supported families and moved the culture and economy of the prairies into the modern era. This is not a family history, though names of pioneering women are scattered throughout.
Handy-Marchello made a clear-eyed effort to provide accurate answers to questions, making an effort to discredit or verify the usual answers. She did this by digging into documents kept by government agencies, consulting the huge body of interview reports composed by the Writers Project, and by reading diaries where available.
The book explores such issues as marriage and divorce, abuse, number of births per woman, out-of-wedlock births, mental illness, health care, education, and status within a social structure that brought its customs and values from elsewhere in the United States or from eastern and northern Europe.