Over the years Missouri women have endured many hardships: Civil War troops in their homes, the harshness of westward travel, the loneliness of the Gold Rush, and slavery. They have also greatly influenced the state's history. Marie Watkins Oliver made the state flag; Margaret Nelson Stephens was a gifted politician; Carry A. Nation fought for prohibition; and Mary Ezit Bulkley was active in the woman suffrage movement.
Hardship and Hope brings to life these and other known and unknown Missouri women through their own writings in journals, letters, diaries, and memoirs. Most of these pieces have never been published or have long been out of print. Carla Waal and Barbara Oliver Korner have skillfully crafted this anthology to represent myriad Missouri women. There are pieces representing the experiences of Jewish, Irish, and German immigrants, African Americans, well-educated women, and deeply religious women. Preceding each entry is a useful introduction that provides history and background on the woman and her work.
Readers will meet women like Phoebe Wilson Couzins, who was the first woman law graduate in Missouri. She went on to work with Susan B. Anthony for the suffrage movement but died in poverty, physically handicapped and emotionally unstable. Emma J. Ray was born a slave just before the Civil War. She and her husband did missionary work in jails and on the streets of Kansas City. Other women represented are Laura Ingalls Wilder, Kate Chopin, Fannie Hurst, and Henriette Geisberg Bruns.
Hardship and Hope began as a series of performances around the state of Missouri through which the book's editors demonstrated the roles women played in that state's past. Because of the enthusiastic response to their performances, Waal and Korner continued searching for documents by Missouri women and now share their discoveries in book form. Covering a little more than a century, from just before Missouri's admission to the Union in 1821 to the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment that gave women the right to vote in 1920, the excerpts here both captivate and inform.
This anthology will appeal to those interested in women's studies, Missouri and midwestern history, and oral interpretation.