Helen Churchill Candee

Helen Churchill Candee on Women in Oklahoma Territory

HCC BWCandee’s contrast of O.T. home-seekers with “helpless, discouraged women, inefficient and parasitical” certainly cuts more sharply than her later works. At the risk of reading too much into one colorful phrase, perhaps this reflects a bit of her own “strength via defiance” – her own refusal to be a “helpless, discouraged woman”?

Candee was caring for two children in a frontier town. Divorce carried substantial social stigma, whatever her former society or current surroundings. It must have taken some grit and grind in practice, however much grace and style were manifested in the presentation. A little defensiveness or hostility is not inconceivable. It happens.

Helen Churchill Candee - An Introduction

Helen Churchill CandeeHelen started her formal education in one of America’s first kindergartens, then attended several girls’ boarding schools of the sort only available to a certain quality of family – and even then mostly only those in New England. Before she was a teenager she spoke and wrote multiple languages, was schooled in grace and etiquette, and probably knew more history and literature than a majority of adult men in the nation at the time. She was particularly inspired, according to one diary entry, by an event at which Charles Dickens read aloud from one of his works.

How many of you have heard Dickens live? My point exactly.

Helen Churchill Candee & Oklahoma Boosterism (Part Two)

HCCIf for some strange reason you’ve not already read Part One several times already and copied favorite bits onto sticky notes to post around your bedroom and kitchen, I there waxed adoring over Helen Churchill Candee and her first extensive article about life in Oklahoma Territory, published in The Forum, June 1898. She wrote at least three other articles about O.T. in the time she lived there, all very positive towards her temporary homeland but varied in style and focus. 

Helen Churchill Candee & Oklahoma Boosterism (Part One)

HCC1Helen Churchill Candee came to Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory (O.T.) in the mid-1890s, primarily drawn by its lax divorce laws. She brought her two children, Edith and Harold, and ended up staying for several years. I carried on at some length ]]last time about how fascinating I’ve come to find this enigmatic chronicler – particularly in terms of her empathetic pith and generous promotion of early Oklahoma.  

It’s really quite unhealthy on my part, I’m sure.