Cow Boys and Cattle Men

Class and Masculinities on the Texas Frontier, 1865-1900

281 pages

9 illustrations

December, 2009

ISBN: 9780814757390



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Jacqueline M. Moore is Professor of History at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. She is the author of several books, including Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois and the Struggle for Racial Uplift.

All books by Jacqueline M. Moore

Cowboys are an American legend, but despite ubiquity in history and popular culture, misperceptions abound. Technically, a cowboy worked with cattle, as a ranch hand, while his boss, the cattleman, owned the ranch. Jacqueline M. Moore casts aside romantic and one-dimensional images of cowboys by analyzing the class, gender, and labor histories of ranching in Texas during the second half of the nineteenth century.

As working-class men, cowboys showed their masculinity through their skills at work as well as public displays in town. But what cowboys thought was manly behavior did not always match those ideas of the business-minded cattlemen, who largely absorbed middle-class masculine ideals of restraint. Real men, by these standards, had self-mastery over their impulses and didn’t fight, drink, gamble or consort with "unsavory" women. Moore explores how, in contrast to the mythic image, from the late 1870s on, as the Texas frontier became more settled and the open range disappeared, the real cowboys faced increasing demands from the people around them to rein in the very traits that Americans considered the most masculine.

Published in Cooperation with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University.


  • “One of the best things about Moore’s work is her keen balancing of theory with substance. is not only a cutting-edge study of class and gender, it may be the best overall social history of the cattle industry in print.”

    Journal of American History

  • “In this short but significant book, Moore (Austin College) offers a convincing corrective to the romanticized views of cowboys and cattlemen advanced by purveyors of popular culture in the US... Moore’s book is provocative in its theme and informative in its coverage of the work of both cowboys and cattlemen... Highly recommended.”


  • “This fascinating book recounts the stories told by cowboys and cattlemen to pierce through the mythologized tales told about them. These men, who came to model manhood for themselves and others in so many ways, are vividly revealed as both less and more familiar—less exotic than the stereotypes we thought we knew and more the working men and capitalist bosses we know and are, defining themselves in terms of gender, race, and class identities through both their work and leisure activities in changing economic times. Highly recommended for anyone interested in new truths about the Old West.”

    —Harry Brod, editor of The Making of Masculinities: The New Men's Studies

  • “Moore, a historian who knows her sources and how to squeeze them, lays clear the many shapes masculinity took among Gilded-Age Texas cattlemen and cowboys. Hers is an in-depth look at their mindsets and behaviors from as many angles as an MRI. How did cowboys change from manly doers to marginal juveniles, and finally, to the mythic idols of recent times? Read it here.”

    —Walter Nugent, author of Into the West: The Story of Its People

  • "Moore takes on an old topic, cowboys and cattlemen in Texas, but she adds new insights from masculinity studies to her subject. The result is an insightful probing of ethnic, class, and gender relations on the Texas ranching frontier during the last decades of the nineteenth century."

    American Historical Review

  • "Among the surfeit of books on late nineteenth-century stock raising, this one stands alone. It bridges an enormous academic gap in blending the ranching culture and the emerging feild of masculinity studies."

    —James A. Wilson, Southwestern Historical Quarterly

  • "A solid, well researched, and useful study."

    The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era