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Women of the Northern Plains

Women of the Northern Plains

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Gender and Settlement on the Homestead Frontier, 1870-1930

Author Barbara Handy-Marchello

Minnesota Historical Society Press (December 1, 2007)

An exploration of the lives of Great Plains settlement-era farm women and their pivotal roles in the home, field, and community.


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.

Author information

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

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 216 pages
  • 19 tables and graphs
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873516044

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