Women lighthouse keepers, fur traders, cooks on sailing vessels,
missionaries, and fearless travelers all wrote of their lives on
the Great Lakes. Their narratives, which span the centuries from
1789 to the present, are now collected in this anthology for the
first time. Some writers, such as Frances Trollope and Jane
Johnston Schoolcraft, are well known. Others left their quiet
testimonies in letters, log books, and diaries that have never
before been published. Beginning with American Indian myths and
stories, and continuing through writings by pioneer wives,
travelers, and working women, more than three dozen selections of
autobiography, fiction, newspaper accounts, and poetry chronicle
what it has meant to live on the lakes from childhood to old age.
Remarkable stories emerge from these pages: Anna Jameson
traveling by bateau from Mackinac Island to Sault Ste. Marie, where
she will shoot the rapids in a canoe and be adopted by the Ojibwe;
Emma Baylis describing her missionary work on Manitoulin Island
every evening in her journal; Harriet Colfax entering her daily
observations and dangers in the logbook of her lighthouse near
Chicago; Ann Linnea chronicling her struggle to kayak around Lake
Superior. Unlike many collections of women's frontier narratives,
The Women's Great Lakes Reader demonstrates that even when
confronting danger and discrimination, most women remained
resilient and optimistic. As poet Judith Minty describes, they went
"past the islands" into the open lake to confront their fears and
Readers and students of United States and Canadian history will
find much new material here to enrich their evolved from
understanding of the region as it wilderness, to frontier, to
industrialization. Introductions and biographical information
accompany each entry to place each entry to place these women's
writing in a personal and historical context.
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