Pioneering Spirit

ImageAfter finding this wonderful book, “Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West” by Dorothy Wickenden, I started to wonder if there were any experiences now-a-days which would compare to the one these girls took on in the very early twentieth century.  Two women, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood–Smith-educated women of society–answered an advertisement for a teaching job in the wilds of northwestern Colorado.  They made the treacherous journey there, risked physical harm from unfriendly inhabitants, disease, hardship, and the heartbreak of their young charges.  The stories of the lives of their pupils’ families are a vivid window into the past of the American West.  This book is chock full of interesting little facts of the past–the history of women’s colleges, the expansion of the mining towns, the background on the Utes tribe… But despite the interest in the mix, it sometimes makes for difficult reading.  I, and other readers, got bogged down in the shift of topic, especially in the critical first few chapters before our heroines set off on their journey.  I was just anxious for the adventure to begin, and was frustrated by the side-bars.  Nonetheless, it is a great story, all the more so because it features my favorite kind of hero: plucky young women who are bucking the system.  So, back to my original question: is there a “Wild Frontier” experience now, which would equate to what these women walked into?  I would love to hear your opinions!

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Pioneering Spirit

  1. I think the closest one could get to a ‘Wild Frontier’ experience today would be the following: women and men who volunteer as nurses and doctors in war torn countries. Again, men and women of science who work in the Arctic or the Antarctic or the deepest jungles in South America to advance the scientific communities and the general public’s understanding of our planet. A friend of mine who is an entomologist visits South America every year on a scientific investigation and some of his stories would raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

  2. Thanks so much for your insightful comments! I’ve also asked the question about whether there are similar frontiers any longer, and I agree the answer is yes. I also wonder whether I would ever have been a pioneer (probably not). Thought: space colonies? Who would go?

  3. I don’t think I am brave enough to be a pioneer. Certainly the next frontier will be space. A manned mission to Mars I believe will happen within the next twenty years.

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