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Archives on the Air 259: Calamity Jane – William C. Rogers papers

Separating fact from fiction is a challenge when it comes to Calamity Jane. It is believed that she was born as Martha Jane Cannary in 1852.

Stories about her nickname abound. Some legends say that any man who crossed her was likely to reckon with calamity. Jane herself claimed she was given the name after playing a part in a daring rescue of the captain of a military post at Goose Creek, Wyoming.

Regardless of the origins of her name, Calamity was a notorious character in the West. Known to wear pants and ride and shoot like a man, she was also a bullwhacker and occasional pony express rider. She traveled throughout Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota and associated with both “Buffalo Bill” Cody and “Wild Bill” Hickok.

Her legend lives on in films, books and even video games.

Read the William C. Rogers papers at UW’s American Heritage Center to learn more about the phenomenon of Calamity Jane.