Women in the Texas Populist Movement
Letters to the Southern Mercury
Texas History - Women's Studies
6 x 9, 256 pp.
7 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 06/01/1997
Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University
  cloth
Price:        $39.95 s

978-0-89096-742-3
  paper
Price:        $19.95 s

978-0-89096-775-1

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Women in the Texas Populist Movement

Letters to the Southern Mercury

Edited by Marion K. Barthelme
Foreword by John B. Boles

Women who lived in the white rural South in the late nineteenth century were not expected to voice political opinions. But they were not ignorant of the issues of the day, and in the Dallas-based Populist newspaper the Southern Mercury, they found a strong outlet for expression.

In Women in the Texas Populist Movement, Marion K. Barthelme presents more than a hundred letters from Texas farm women, who were becoming ever more alert to the political and economic forces impacting their lives. The agrarian reform movement was a major element of political life in Texas, and women's letters to the Texas Farmers' Alliance newspaper became increasingly passionate and forthright in expressing their concerns. The women discover a camaraderie through their letters—a recognition of their common aspirations and frustrations with a system that dismisses their experiences. Through the medium of writing, they express vibrant personalities and a pungent sense of humor.

Barthelme makes this lively correspondence accessible for the first time and brings these admirable women into a historical framework to give a more complete picture of Southern history.

What Readers Are Saying:

Marion K. Barthelme of Houston is a former correspondent for Time magazine and a freelance journalist contributing to numerous national publications. --Houston Chronicle
“. . . Barthelme knew she had stumbled onto historical pay dirt in the women’s descriptions of their before-dawn-to-long-past-dusk, scrabbling existence. . . .” --Houston Chronicle

“ . . . provides wonderful glimpses into the primary record.” --Rebecca Edwards, Vassar College

“...valuable history of women’s role in the growth of the Populist Party. . . . Highly recommended to persons interested in western history and/or women’s studies.” --Amarillo Sunday News-Globe

“Marion Barthelme’s excellent introduction and collection of letters from women in the Texas Populist movement . . . helps us to see that the producer tradition of rural radicalism included women. . . . This is a much needed addition to the published literature on Populism and would work very well in undergraduate classes where a book on the agrarian revolt of the 1880s and 1890s might be assigned.” --Rural & Agricultural History

“This is a much needed addition to the published literature on Populism and would work very well in undergraduate classes where a book on the agrarian revolt of the 1880s and 1890s might be assigned. . . . The strength of the book emerges from the understanding that women not only shaped the direction of the agrarian revolt but were also empowered by the movement.” --H-NET, Humanities on-line

“Taken together Barthelme’s introduction and the letters themselves constitute an important source on rural southern women and a valuable addition to our knowledge about the nature of the 19th century farmer’s revolt.” --Labor History

“The book is a welcome addition to the historical literature of Texas and succeeds in its dual purposes: it provides a portrait of the Texas women who supported the Populist movement but it also lets the women speak for themselves by including their submissions to the Southern Mercury.” --Melissa Wiedenfeld

“Marion K. Barthelme has done an excellent job of compiling and editing 180 letter written by rural Texas women to the Southern Mercury . . . This book is an important addition to the literature of the farmers’ movement, late-nineteenth-century Texas politics, and women’s history. . . . this work is an example of social history at its best . . . ” --Agricultural History

“...Barthelme has compiled a valuable primary source.” --The Journal of Southern History

“Not only does one find Bartheleme’s conclusions supported, but one is also constantly stumbling across nuggets of insight and understanding that could never be revealed by studying the movement’s national spokespersons.” --Labor Studies Journal

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