Black Women of the Old West
Black Women of the Old West

Black Women of the Old West



100 Pages, 10.25 x 8.25

Paperback, $17.95 (US $17.95) (CA $23.95)

Publication Date: January 2020

ISBN 9781682752470

Not Yet Published. Estimated release date: January 2020
Google Preview


William Loren Katz traces this fascinating American story through old records, newspaper clippings, pioneer reminiscences, and dozens of rare frontier photographs

Although African-American women appear in few textbooks or movies about the Old West, they turned up on every American frontier. Some were born within Native American nations and others traveled west in pioneer wagons. Yes, many were devoted mothers and daughters, but they also built communities, schools, and churches, and stayed on to become poets and civil rights agitators, schoolmarms and nurses, cowgirls and homesteaders. Black women lived their American dream as they ran laundries, hotels, schools, stores, ranches, newspapers, and carting firms. Day into night they poured themselves into the labor, fellowship, and determination that kept communities afloat. As they challenged white bigotry, their grit helped transform dismal, sparsely settled frontier territories into thriving, populous states. William Loren Katz, author of the pathbreaking Black Indians, traces this fascinating American story through old records, newspaper clippings, pioneer reminiscences, and dozens of rare frontier photographs.


Praise for the first edition of Black Women of the Old West:   "Most students of American history have heard of the Dred Scott case, but the name of Harriet Scott, Dred's wife, is not so well known. Hers is one of the many fascinating histories presented here. Using primary sources and featuring dozens of black-and-white archival photographs and reproductions, Katz recounts stories of African American women who made the journey west and illuminates the times in which they lived and their reasons for going. Some women of color escaped west from slavery. Others sued for freedom after being taken there by their owners. Still, others came as mail-order brides. Many black women flourished on the frontier, where they found more opportunities for education and better paying jobs. Katz presents a wealth of information on a subject virtually unexplored in children's literature. While Brandon Marie Miller's Buffalo Gals (Lerner, 1995) has a similar scope, this book goes into greater detail and covers more material." —Rebecca O'Connell, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, School Library Journal     "Although black women were always part of the western expansion, they are virtually ignored in history books; Katz succeeds admirably in setting the record straight. Researching the period from the late eighteenth century to the early 1900s, he found women who were activists, farmers, true pioneers, army wives, gold hunters, mail order brides, black Indians, servants, and business owners in all areas of the West, from the early frontiers in Indiana and Ohio to later settlements in the Northwest, Southwest, and far North. From the slave Juliet to the eccentric Mary Fields, he cites their achievements and the difficult conditions they faced. Although the information provided for each is usually brief, the number of women he includes is impressive, as are the photographs and prints that illustrate nearly every page. This very readable book is likely to be an eye-opener for many readers; it will certainly be a worthwhile addition to classroom and library collections." —Chris Sherman, Booklist   "Extremely well written, filled with fascinating information and eye-catching photographs, Black Women of the Old West is one of the most interesting books I have ever read." —Dr. Betty Shabazz   "Here are fascinating vignettes and photographs of dozens of women, some famous, others unknown outside their own family circles, who lived across the West. . . ." —New York Times Sunday Book Review   "This is that perfect find: a book that entertains and enlightens. . . . Add this one to the growing list of literary treasures. Browsing through the many pictures is a true delight, like meeting distant relatives. A must-read." —Los Angeles Features Syndicate   "William Loren Katz's books on black history are well known to readers young and old. Black Women of the Old West is a groundbreaking look at a forgotten population of western settlers -- African American women. He traces how these women challenged white bigotry, labored to create new lives, and ultimately helped transform sparse settlements into thriving states." —National Black Review   "Year after year, author/historian William Loren Katz continues to mine the lodestone of Black culture, and it is simply amazing how often he manages to find new treasures. Here, with the same insight he brought to Black Indians and his other books, the author traces the courageous role of Black women in settling the West. He deftly shows how these pioneering spirits helped stabilize early communities in Texas, Oklahoma, California and elsewhere." —Herb Boyd, co-editor of Brotherman

Author Biography

William Loren Katz is the author of forty books, including such award-winning titles as Breaking the Chains: African American Slave Resistance, The Black West, and Black Women of the Old West. He has lectured in Europe, Africa, and the United States; he has been a Scholar in Residence at Teachers College, Columbia University; and he has served as a consultant to the Smithsonian Institute and to school systems from California to Florida and England. He lives in New York City.