Cover for LECOMPTE: Cowgirls of the Rodeo: Pioneer Professional Athletes

Cowgirls of the Rodeo

Pioneer Professional Athletes

Using biographies to describe women’s transformation from serious rodeo athletes to beauty queens and their successful struggle to regain their place--and respect--as the competitive athletes they are today

In this first substantial study of rodeo women, Mary Lou Lecompte surveys the early rodeo cowgirls' achievements as professional athletes, the near demise of women's rodeo events during World War II, and the phenomenal success of the Women's Professional Rodeo Association in regaining lost ground for rodeo cowgirls. Recalling an extraordinary chapter in women's history as well as the history of American sport, Cowgirls of the Rodeo contributes to a deeper understanding of the challenges facing women in the American West and in American sport.


"This welcome source offers a fresh look at the history of women's professional rodeo. . . . [LeCompte] combines biographical information about many of the important women who contributed to women's rodeo with the history of women's participation in this sport. . . . Interesting and informative."--Choice

"Outstanding . . . A forceful and multilayered statement about women in American history."--Anne M. Butler, American Studies

"A first-rate work of scholarship."--Publishers Weekly

"The cowgirls in this book are not Dale Evans, Miss Kitty, or Audra Barkley. They are the real thing, and Mary Lou LeCompte's book is much more interesting for it."--Feminist Collections

"In an age when feminist discourse tends to be buttoned up and serious, Cowgirls of the Rodeo is a lively social history that captures the unbridled exhilaration of freedom."--Elizabeth Judd, Welcomat

"LeCompte raises interesting issues about the place of women in athletics, and the experiences of women growing up on ranches. . . . An important addition to the history of the western United States."--Virginia S. Jenkins, American Studies International


Mary Lou LeCompte, a charter member of the North American Society for Sport History, was an associate professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas at Austin from 1960 until her retirement in 1996.

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