Frontier Teachers

Stories of Heroic Women of the Old West

If countless books and movies are to be believed, America’s Wild West was, at heart, a world of cowboys and Indians, sheriffs and gunslingers, scruffy settlers and mountain men—a man’s world. Here, Chris Enss, in the latest of her popular books to take on this stereotype, tells the stories of twelve courageous women who faced down schoolrooms full of children on the open prairies and in the mining towns of the Old West.

Between 1847 and 1858, more than 600 women teachers traveled across the untamed frontier to provide youngsters with an education, and the numbers grew rapidly in the decades to come, as women took advantage of one of the few career opportunities for respectable work for ladies of the era. Enduring hardship, the dozen women whose stories are movingly told in the pages of Frontier Teachers demonstrated the utmost dedication and sacrifice necessary to bring formal education to the Wild West. As immortalized in works of art and literature, for many students their women teachers were heroic figures who introduced them to a world of possibilities—and changed America forever.