Women and the Creation of Urban Life: Dallas, Texas, 1843-1920

Synopsis

Those individuals remembered as the "founders" of cities were men, but as Elizabeth York Enstam shows, it was women who played a major role in creating the definitive forms of urban life we know today.

A case in point is Dallas. In its early years, women were establishing organizations that altered the functions of local government, amended the public conception of political issues, and changed the city's physical structure. Women stretched, redefined, and at times erased the essentially artificial boundaries between female and male, between "the private" and "the public" as aspects of human endeavor.

As Dallas evolved from a frontier town into a modern city, the varied facets of women's work revealed how their roles changed to shape, influence, and on occasion determine specific characteristics of urban life during times when female lives were supposed to be only private.

Enstam traces the ways national trends were expressed at the local level and analyzes women's accomplishments and the importance of their work as they assumed community leadership in perpetuating the traditions, education, fine arts, and customs of the larger culture, and in implementing Progressive principles in a specific community.

Urban historians, scholars of women's studies, historians of women, and readers with a general interest in history will find that the significance of these women's accomplishments in Dallas have echoed throughout the nation.