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'Little Cowpunchers' Now Ride the Web

"School on the Range: The Little Cowpuncher Roundup," partially funded by a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council, captures the memories of seven former Little Cowpunchers, the students of Eulalia "Sister" Bourne, who wrote articles and illustrated a mimeographed school newspaper that appeared from 1932 to 1943 at five southern Arizona rural schools: Baboquivari, Redington, San Fernando, Sasco and Sopori.

Gus Amado, Alice Hackett Pesuti, Lee Bell Taylor, Victor and Pete Aros, and Tilly and Ray Valdez recalled their experiences at three of the schools where Bourne taught. All remember her fondly as a caring teacher and a person who influenced their young lives. Each interview is available as streaming video from the School on the Range website and is an excellent resource for teachers and students interested in first-hand accounts of Arizona ranch life in the 1930s and 1940s.

In addition to the former Little Cowpunchers, Caroline Atwill McMakin of Casa Grande, who was a friend of Eulalia Bourne as a young woman, also shared her memories. Eulalia Bourne, who died in 1983, is well known for the three biographical accounts of her life as rancher and school teacher that were published by the University of Arizona Press: "Woman in Levi's" (1967), "Nine Months is a Year at Baboquivari School" (1968) and "Ranch Schoolteacher" (1974). She also was known for being active in Arizona politics and for homesteading and ranching most of her adult life.

The School on the Range project was led by Tucson author and illustrator Joan Sandin and Stuart Glogoff, a project manager at the UofA's Learning Technologies Center. Sandin had found a tattered copy of the Little Cowpuncher newsletter in a local archive while doing research a few years ago and began collaborating with Glogoff to preserve and publicize it. Her forthcoming children's book, "Coyote School News" (to be published in July by Henry Holt), includes a description of the Little Cowpuncher newspaper and the URL for the Web site in the Author's Note.

Sandin said that the "Little Cowpuncher" was somewhat well known even beyond Southern Arizona. By May of 1937, two hundred copies of each issue were mimeographed to be distributed throughout Arizona and even mailed to other states and foreign countries.

Sandin described Eulalia Bourne's reasons for doing the paper: "She wanted to leave a record, 'something the children could smile over nostalgically in years to come,' and she wanted it to be read by families and neighbors in the community, many whom she saw as 'of lowly status in learning,' as well as by 'friends famous as educators, editors and authors.' Furthurmore, Bourne saw the paper as a way to bring some of the outside world (through letters, subscriptions and visits) over the mountains and into her schoolroom."

Glogoff said that collecting these interviews and making them available on the Web is an important way to record local histories. "The memories that these surviving Little Cowpunchers share are unique to Southern Arizona. It is extremely important for us to preserve them for future generations."

An earlier project, Little Cowpuncher: Rural School Newspaper of Southern Arizona, also partially funded by the AHC, re-created a Web version of The Little Cowpuncher in a close likeness of the original and can be read online.



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