A Woman’s Way: The First Millenium of Adventurous Women

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How did she do it? How can I do it? The adventurous lives of North America's women explorers pose urgent and personal questions for both women and men today. What does it mean to be American, or Canadian, before (and after) those boundaries were drawn? Where is wilderness for women, if one definition of "the frontier" is the absence of (white) women? What makes an explorer, and what does it mean to "discover" a land and its peoples? In pursuit of these questions, A Woman's Way retraces the paths of a thousand years of adventurous women on the northern edge of the New World. These historic women have been chosen for the scope of their journeys. They span the breadth of the continent and the history of its discovery. It is the first time some of these "unsung heroes" are remembered in song. Most of these women are paragraphs or footnotes in written histories, recognized only as the mother of the "first white child" (often defined as born of a white woman) on a given "frontier." Yet each has made a major expedition, lived--often alone--in a wilderness, and/or performed heroic acts of daring, vision, endurance, and courage. Each has left an enduring legacy in artistic or literary work or in heritage sites and monuments. Their tales are lessons for survival. Each woman's way charts a course for all of us to follow.

This work is dedicated to my two grandmothers and to my mother--adventurous women all. Elizabeth (Betty) Parker Hartl (1908-1990) earned her pilot's license in Athol, Massachusetts as a young mother in the 1930s; toured Africa with the Methodist Church; and was President of the Boston League of Women Voters during the 1960s busing crisis. Martha McGill McCullough Horne (1905-1997) drove one of the first Model T Fords at Mount Holyoke College (Class of '27) and twice circumnavigated the globe after age sixty. Martha's daughter Margery M. Noel has traveled across North America and Europe with small children; visited polar bears in the Northwest Territories; and run the Three Gorges of the Yangtze in China. My third-generation sense of adventure is honestly come by. 

How did she do it? How can I do it? The adventurous lives of North America's women explorers pose urgent and personal questions for boh women and men today. What does it mean to be American, or Canadian, before (and after) those boundaries were drawn? Where is wilderness for women, if one definition of "the frontier" is the absence of (white) women? What makes an explorer, and what does it mean to "discover" a land and its peoples? In pursuit of these questions, A Woman's Way retraces the paths of a thousand years of adventurous women on the northern edge of the New World. These historic women have been chosen for the scope of their journeys. They span the breadth of the continent and the history of its discovery. It is the first time some of these "unsung heroes" are remembered in song. Most of these women are paragraphs or footnotes in written histories, recognized only as the mother of the "first white child" (often defined as born of a white woman) on a given "frontier." Yet each has made a major expedition, lived--often alone--in a wilderness, and/or performed heroic acts of daring, vision, endurance, and courage. Each has left an enduring legacy in artistic or literary work or in heritage sites and monuments. Their tales are lessons for survival. Each woman's way charts a course for all of us to follow.

This work is dedicated to my two grandmothers and to my mother--adventurous women all. Elizabeth (Betty) Parker Hartl (1908-1990) earned her pilot's license in Athol, Massachusetts as a young mother in the 1930s; toured Africa with the Methodist Church; and was President of the Boston League of Women Voters during the 1960s busing crisis. Martha McGill McCullough Horne (1905-1997) drove one of the first Model T Fords at Mount Holyoke College (Class of '27) and twice circumnavigated the globe after age sixty. Martha's daughter Margery M. Noel has traveled across North America and Europe with small children; visited polar bears in the Northwest Territories; and run the Three Gorges of the Yangtze in China. My third-generation sense of adventure is honestly come by.