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Nailed Boots and Crinoline Gowns

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Robert Peden
April 2024
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Histories of Pākehā settlement in New Zealand have often ignored the role of women, or devalued their contribution to mere adjuncts to the work of men. In Nailed Boots and Crinoline Gowns historian Robert Peden argues that not only were women present from the very beginnings of settlement, they were also industrious partners with their menfolk in farming and other enterprises. Despite the Victorian ideal of women as primarily domestic helpmates to their husbands, many women succeeded on the farm and in the wider world. Many settlers on New Zealand’s rural frontier lived in extreme isolation, far from friends, family and support. In times of crisis, such as childbirth or severe illness, their resourcefulness was sorely tried. Many developed a healthy self-reliance to manage this acute deprivation, some were broken by it. Nailed Boots and Crinoline Gowns presents the stories of women living on the rural frontier in the first two or three Pakeha--generations. Through their diaries, letters and other sources the author relates the vivid stories of women who toiled long and hard, shoulder to shoulder with their men, even as they cared for their families.