Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Cowgirl Way: Hats Off to America's Women of the West by Holly George-Warren

Title: The Cowgirl Way: Hats Off to America's Women of the West
Author: Holly George-Warren
ISBN: 9780618737383
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010
Hardcover, 128 pages
Genre: Ages 10 and Up, Women's History
Rating: A
Source: Amazon Vine

First Line: Before anyone ever heard the word "cowgirl," there were women who ventured west.

The literal definition of cowgirl is a woman, or girl, who works outdoors with livestock, and this marvelous little volume follows this fascinating female breed from its earliest days to the present. Women of the Old West, Outlaws and Rebels, Wild West Show Girls, Rodeo Stars, Cowgirls who sang and acted in the movies... all the way to Twenty-First-Century cowgirls, George-Warren shows the logical progression of these independent women.

Women traveling west in wagon trains, women who concealed their sex and identities so they would be accepted as men-- one true spirit after another is revealed. Although some familiar names like Belle Starr, Calamity Jane, and Etta Place are talked about, the book comes to life when describing the lesser-known women.

The chapters that widened my eyes as I read were the ones about the women rodeo stars back at the turn of the twentieth century and the cowgirl movie and singing stars. I'd never realized that women had anything to do in rodeo other than barrel racing. Now I know better. In many ways, back in the early days of the sport, women participated in all events and were more popular than the men. Then along came the Depression, and the rules began to change. The same thing happened in the movies. As I read some of the film synopses, I couldn't believe what wonderful roles were available for women back then. It would seem that the Depression had more wide-ranging effects than I realized.

This is a read that is well worth your time, be you adult or child. Fortunately there is a bibliography in the back because one of the things you'll want to do when you turn the last page is to read more about these women, which is one of the best things a book can make you want to do. If you have even the slightest interest in the Old West, in women's history, or in sports like rodeo, by all means get your hands on a copy of this book. You'll be glad you did.


  1. Oh this book sounds wonderful! I always wanted to be a cowgirl when I was little!

  2. Leah-- I did, too... unless we were playing Cowboys & Indians. Then I was always an Indian!

  3. This sounds fascinating. One of the things I miss most about Prescott is the July 4 rodeo (Does the rodeo circuit still come through there on the 4th?) in particular.

  4. Beth-- You bet. Prescott wouldn't be Prescott without the rodeo!

  5. Sounds like a great book to have on hand for school age children.

  6. Kris-- It's a good book to have on hand for any age child (including me)!


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!