Even before her death Calamity Jane/Martha Canary (1856-1903) had become a legend. Male journalists, dime novelists, Calamity herself, and rumor-mongers depicted her as a Wild Woman of the Old West. Another legend, as Angel of Mercy, emerged from Calamity's kindly treatment of the sick and help for the poor. A third legend, a Pioneer Woman desiring marriage, motherhood, and a stable home, also traveled in the closing decades of Calamity's life. The three legends followed and diverged considerably from her real life.
Richard W. Etulain is a prize-winning historian specializing in the history of the American West and more recently "Calamity Jane: A Reader's Guide" He is the author or editor of 50 volumes. His books and essays have won several major prizes. He has been honored as president of both the Western Literature and Western History Associations.