What's Happening at the FRHM
March 14, 2013
Culture Series: Eastern Views of Western Women: Documenting the Women of the Wild West
The mystique of Manifest Destiny had much to do with the conquering and subduing of virgin territory and the establishment of outposts of civilization as it had been known “back East.” The Eastern view of the American Southwest envisioned a wide, flat, empty, overtly threatening landscape—more wind and sky than earth. It was certainly “no place for a lady.” Women in the West were seen as abstractions—the brave but gentle “ tamers” bringing Eastern virtues of domesticity to the wild unknown or the proverbial “bad” woman living on the margins of Gomorrah.
As writers and artists constructed the “image” of the Wild West as a haven for the hyper-individualist, self-reliant, and aggressive male personalities, the actual lives of real women retreated into the shadows behind the myths.
A graduate of Wellesley College, Martha Shipman Andrews received her Masters Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. She is presently University Archivist and an assistant professor at New Mexico State University. Her book, "The Whole Damned World: New Mexico Aggies at War, 1941-45, The World War II Correspondence of Dean Daniel B. Jett" was published by the Rio Grande Books in 2009. She is a member of the board of directors of the HSNM and of the Dońa Ana County Historical Society.