This dissertation explores the ways four white, upper-class, well-educated American women who lived or traveled in the Great Lakes region from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s evoked and imposed standards of refinement and gentility in their works of travel writing as part of a strategy to urge other women to follow them to the West. Caroline Kirkland's A New Home, Who'll Follow? (1839), Eliza Farnham's Life in Prairie Land (1846), Margaret Fuller's Summer on the Lakes, in 1843 (1844), and Eliza Steele's A Summer Journey in the West (1841) are works whose authors were concerned about how well refined women could maintain domestic ideals in the primitive conditions of the Great Lakes region when faced with the effects of greater freedom, fewer models of ideal behavior, limited educational opportunities, and an influx of lower-class Americans and European-Americans. I argue that each of them identified the West as a place where courageous, capable, and refined women could exert appropriate, much-needed influence to bring about positive change, starting at home in the domestic sphere, resonating with higher levels of society, and ultimately influencing national character for the greater good. In their works, the four authors provided strategies for women like them from the Northeast to adapt and thrive on the frontier of continuous American civilization, while also considering marriage and family dynamics in the West, as well as what the United States' treatment of its indigenous population might indicate about the nation's moral compass. They showed that the combination of time, resources, and the influence of refined women held the promise of improved conditions and higher standards. My project fills a gap in scholarship about nineteenth century American women's travel writing by synthesizing and expanding upon others' approaches and considering four works by authors either largely overlooked by scholars (Steele) or not often considered in relation to one another (Kirkland, Farnham, and Fuller). Bringing their works together in one study that focuses on a particular time in a particular place allows for female perspectives about the frontier, the West, and settlement, offering a more complete and inclusive version of how the region was settled.