I need information on women during the Westward Expansion and the struggles they went through.      

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were generally two categories of women who faced struggles during Westward Expansion in the United States.  

Some women stayed behind while their husbands or other loved ones went west and they suffered because of their absence.  Many men went west alone during the California Gold Rush.  Others traveled west to find land and prepare a home before sending for their families.  The women left behind had to care for their families and homes on their own.  Others had to find work.  Common work that women did to supplement their incomes during that time was to take in washing or to do mending or dressmaking.  Their husbands might not be able to earn money for months when they went west.  When they did earn money, it could take time to send it back home.

Other women traveled with their husbands or family members when they went west.  Most had to travel by covered wagon.  Journeys were full of long days of travel and extreme weather conditions such as heat, snow, and rain.  The trail could get dusty, and there was little people could do to wash.  Women had to walk on foot near the wagon in their long and heavy skirts.  There was also little privacy in a covered wagon.  Women had to cook over an open fire and do washing in rivers or ponds.  There was disease along the trails, as well as other dangers like drowning and injury.  When women arrived at their destinations, they often found themselves in sparsely populated areas with little community and could therefore suffer from loneliness.  In addition, men far outnumbered women in the west.  Even if a woman moved to a larger town or city, she might not have had many opportunities to make friends.

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