Joyce Gibson Roach

The Cowgirls

As a college student back in the early 1990s, I stumbled over The Cowgirls in a small and newly formed section of the college bookstore called "Women's Studies". Having only a vague inkling about rodeo history and women's part in it, I stood spellbound as I thumbed through this book, completely absorbed for who knows how long. It was one of those moments, shall I say, when the written word washes through ones consciousness and resonates in a way that cannot be explained. I was changed, for a part of me had been validated. Growing up in a rodeo town through the 50s and 60s, my perception of women in rodeo was quite different from the stories of those who Joyce Gibson Roach documented in this precious and groundbreaking work. At the time of publication, the book was at the forefront of a resurgence in interest in women's history. In my opinion, it is still the only definitive history of the pioneer rodeo cowgirl. The book is written in colorful language I can only describe as rustic elegance and profound wit. No wonder it's still in print. Joyce became my hero as a researcher and writer of first rate, and the stories she told still inspire me three decades later. I bought many copies of this book and gave them to jaw-dropping friends who had "no idea" about this particular slice of women's history. Thank you Joyce. Thank you for all that you gave back to us.

Polly J. Helm