"The conventional view of Virginia City as a ramshackle mining camp populated largely by miners and the businesses - saloons, hotels, brothels - that served their needs obscures a significant and fascinating aspect of its history: it was home to large numbers of women and children. In this provocative and path-breaking collection of essays, noted scholars from several disciplines examine the lives of the women, from all social classes and many ethnicities, who settled on the Comstock Lode and struggled to create a stable community in that transient boomtown setting.
Virginia City and its environs constituted a highly urbanized industrial district employing the most advanced mining technologies of the time and offering employment to people of many backgrounds. Its women ranged from native Paiute Indiands to the poorest laborers to the pampered wives of boomtown millionaires, and it offered a considerable number of occupations to women who needed to support themselves.
The contributors to Comstock Women consider the complexity of women's experiences on the Comstock Lode, combining traditional historical research with demography, ethnic studies, architectural history, material culture, and literary studies, using as many tools as possible to arrive at insights not addressed by earlier histories and the limited primary records. Their conclusions change the way we view the position of Chinese women, the history of prostitution in the district, the economic roles played by women in the mining West, the wide-ranging social impact of such anodynes as opium, and the idea of community in a boomtown enviroment. A final essay on gender archaeology suggests yet another way to examine the lives of women who left few written records of their lives.
Comstock Women is a pioneering work in the history of Nevada's greatest mining center and will serve as a benchmark for historians of other western mining towns. The image that emerges from these essays is one of people - women and thier families - attempting to build a community and improve thier own lives and those of thier families and neighbors."