Doing What the Day Brought

An Oral History of Arizona Women

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"I've seen many changes during the years," says Irene Bishop, "from horse and buggy to automobiles and planes, from palm leaf fans to refrigeration. . . . They talk about the good old days but I do not want to go back. I'd like to go back about twenty years, but not beyond that. Life was too hard."

Drawing on interviews with twenty-nine individuals, Doing What the Day Brought examines the everyday lives of women from the late nineteenth century to the present day and demonstrates the role they have played in shaping the modern Arizona community.

Focusing on "ordinary" women, the book crosses race, ethnic, religious, economic, and marital lines to include Arizona women from diverse backgrounds. Rather than simply editing each woman's words, Rothschild and Hronek have analyzed these oral histories for common themes and differences and have woven portions into a narrative that gives context to the individual lives. The resulting life-course format moves naturally from childhood to home life, community service, and participation in the work force, and concludes with reflections on changes witnessed in the lifetimes of these women.

For the women whose lives are presented here, it may have been common to gather dead saguaro cactus ribs to make outdoor fires to boil laundry water, or to give birth on a dirt floor. Their stories capture not only changes in a state where history has overlooked the role of women, but the changing roles of American women over the course of this century.

"A marvelous contribution to understanding the role of women in the development of the American West. Doing What the Day Brought is a sort of hybrid oral history, greatly buttressed and enlarged by the insightful commentary and analysis of the authors, women historians native to the West. Although focusing on Arizona history dating back to the late nineteenth century, this immensely readable book offers a broad look at the day-to-day lives of ordinary pioneer women who serve as prototypes for all the women who made the extraordinary move west. The authors interviewed about 30 women age 70 and above who have spent most of their adult lives in Arizona. . . . An essential addition to any women's history or western pioneer history collection."—Booklist

"A welcome addition to histories of 'grass roots' western women. . . . A richly textured account of women's lives in the desert Southwest."—Journal of American History

"A fascinating record of the ways in which some Arizona women did 'what the day brought'—this is an extraordinary and valuable study."—Western Historical Quarterly

"An excellent supplementary readings source about the lives of pioneer women."—Popular Culture in Libraries
Doing What the Day Brought
174 Pages 5.5 x 8.5 x 0.8 Published: 2015 Paperback (9780816512768)
Ebook (9780816533008)

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