Nothing Daunted

Nothing Daunted

The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West

Book - 2011
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Baker & Taylor
"A captivating full-length book derived from a widely read and much beloved New Yorker piece about Wickenden's grandmother and her grandmother's best friend who left their affluent East Coast lives to "rough it" as teachers in the wilds of Colorado in 1916"-- Provided by publisher.

& Taylor

A full-length account based on an admired "New Yorker" article traces the experiences of classmates Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, who in 1916 left their affluent New York lives to teach school on the Western frontier.
A full-length account based on an admired New Yorker article traces the experiences of classmates Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, who in 1916 left their affluent New York lives to teach school on the western frontier.
"A captivating book about Dorothy Wickenden's grandmother, who left her affluent East Coast life to "rough it" as a teacher in Colorado in 1916"-- Provided by publisher.

Simon and Schuster
This exhilarating saga about two intrepid young women who leave the affluence of their New York home to teach school on the Western frontier in 1916 is authentically created using actual letters home and interviews with descendants.

Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood attended grade school and Smith College together, spent nine months on a grand tour of Europe in 1910, and then, bored with society luncheons and chaperoned balls and not yet ready for marriage, they went off to teach the children of homesteaders in a remote schoolhouse on the Western Slope of Colorado. They traveled on the new railroad over the Continental Divide and by wagon to Elkhead, a tiny settlement far from the nearest town. Their students came to school from miles away in tattered clothes and shoes tied together with string.

Dorothy Woodruff was the grandmother of New Yorker executive editor Dorothy Wickenden. Nearly one hundred years later, Wickenden found the buoyant, detailed, colorful letters the two women wrote to their families. Through them, she has chronicled their trials in the classroom, the cowboys and pioneering women they met, and the violent kidnapping of a close friend. Central to their narrative is Ferry Carpenter, the witty, idealistic, and occasionally outrageous young lawyer and cattle rancher who hired them, in part because he thought they would make attractive and cultivated brides. None of them imagined the transforming effect the year would have—on the children, the families, and the teachers.

Wickenden set out on her own journey to discover what two intrepid Eastern women found when they went West, and what America was like at that uncertain moment, with the country poised for the First World War, but going through its own period of self-discovery.

Drawing upon the letters, interviews with descendants, research about these vanished communities, and trips to the region, Wickenden creates a compelling, original saga about the two intrepid young women and the “settling up” of the West.

Publisher: New York, NY : Scribner, 2011
ISBN: 9781439176580
Branch Call Number: 371.1 W632n
Characteristics: xiv, 286 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


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IndyPL_SteveB Dec 09, 2018

You will see a wider view of American history in this entertaining true story. In 1909, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosemary (“Ros”) Underwood graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts. By 1916, still unmarried, they were about to move to New York City when an unusual opportunity came their way. A friend had a brother who was homesteading in Western Colorado and was looking for teachers for country schoolhouses. Dorothy and Ros jumped at the chance and in August took the train west to Hayden, Colorado. What they didn’t appreciate was that Colorado west of the Rockies in 1916 was very little different than it had been in 1860. Just barely past its “Indians and Outlaws” days, Routt County had a small scattered population primarily working as farmers, cattle and sheep ranchers, and miners. Children would have to travel 3-8 miles to get to school, even in the middle of winter with several feet of snow. And Dorothy and Ros knew *nothing* about teaching.

The book is written by Dorothy Woodruff’s granddaughter. The picture that the author builds of life in that community is colorful and surprising. There are romances and even a life-threatening kidnapping. But the experience was life-altering for both women and, of course, for the children they taught. Because the key benefit to having good teachers is not how many facts they teach you; but how much wider they get you to see your future.

Jun 05, 2013

Not the most eventful of books, but that's not really the point. Letters aren't going to make for a really thrilling plot; it's about the detail of daily life. There could have been a little more focus, but true stories recreated through letters are usually going to have a little problems with that. I wish the library had a greater selection of pioneer-type life stories, so I'm glad this was available.

Caroline1731 Oct 11, 2012

An engrossing book that recreates the lives of two society women from NY who move to Colorado at the turn of the century to teach in a rural school house. It's a true story of their lives recreated through their letters home at that time. I don't typically read non-fiction but the sense of adventure and good humor of the "heroines" carried me through. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who liked to read Laura Ingalls Wilder growing up and who loves stories of strong, capable women.

May 12, 2012

Found it be a worthwhile read--I am one of those readers that will skip around with non-fiction. I would read chapters I found to be interesting.

DiaT Oct 18, 2011

After 60 pp I decided to stop wasting my time waiting for something to really happen. It was too unfocused and jarbled. Lost interest.

Sep 01, 2011

Two childhood friends, both Smith College grads, accept teaching jobs at a new school on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains in northwestern Colorado in 1915. It's more than just about that year; it's really a family memoir of the author's grandmother, also Dorothy, and her friend Roz.

It's a good story. The enterprising Ferry Carpenter who gets them to Colorado is the more interesting character!


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