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Hanshew releases book on 'Oklahoma Rodeo Women'

Staff Writer
The Shawnee News-Star

There’s a new book available that tells the story of Oklahoma women and their role in the history of rodeo: “Oklahoma Rodeo Women” by Dr. Tracey Hanshew.

“Oklahoma’s central location and ranching tradition gave it a unique connection to the rodeo industry as it grew from a local pastime to an internationally popular sport,” a press release from Arcadia Publishing said. “From the very beginning, Oklahoma cowgirls played a significant role in developing the institution and the businesses that grew up in its shadow.”

The book, released in February of this year, follows rodeo history from its first days all the way to the present. There is information on some of the women who carved a place for women in the sport – including Lucille Mulhall – and chapters on the women who have competed more recently.

Maybe one of the most interesting aspects of the book is how large the early cowgirls like Mulhall feature in rodeo history: breaking records, riding the same broncs the men were riding, and training riders for Hollywood. Yet more recent mentions of women in rodeo seemed to be relegated to support roles for the men who competed or to making a name for themselves in only one competition. The reason for this became clear when the topic turned to all the ways women were shut out of rodeo after World War II. It also discusses the ways they’ve fought to regain their footing in the world of rodeo.

“Oklahoma Rodeo Women” is published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press as part of an American Heritage Series.

Hanshew is a clinical assistant professor at Washington State University, Tri-Cities.