In the American imagination, the rugged, vast landscapes of the West are dotted with solitary men on horseback—cowboys, outlaws, sheriffs. But the frontier was also home to women whose stories don’t match the standard Hollywood Western script. What brought women to places like California and Wyoming, and what lives could they lead there? Did Western women experience the same freedoms and adventures as their male counterparts?
In advance of the “What It Means to Be American” launch event “The Women of the West,” we asked historians: What opportunities did the American West offer women that they may not have had back East?