Women's Roles in Eighteenth-Century America

Women's Roles in Eighteenth-Century America

Women's Roles in Eighteenth-Century America

Women's Roles in Eighteenth-Century America

Synopsis

Spanning the broad spectrum of colonial-era life, is this revealing exploration of how eighteenth-century American women of various races, classes, and religions, were affected by conditions of the times- war, slavery, religious awakenings, political change, perceptions about gender- as well as how they influenced the world around them. Women's Roles in Eighteenth-Century America follows the transformation of the British colonies to become a new nation. The book is organized thematically to examine marriage and the family, the law, work, travel, war, religion, education and the arts. Each chapter combines current research and primary sources to offer authoritative portraits of real lives of everyday women during this pivotal early era in US history.

Excerpt

History, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in… I read it a little as a duty,
but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes
and kings, with wars or pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing,
and hardly any women at all.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1818)

Women’s Roles in Eighteenth-Century America is real history, but unlike the histories read by Miss Morland in Northanger Abbey, it is filled with women. Although this volume includes discussions of wars and pestilence, its aim is to examine how women were involved, how they reacted, and how they were expected to react to wars, pestilence, and a host of other situations they encountered in eighteenthcentury America. Like Jane Austen’s novels, this volume also focuses on marriage, family, and domestic life—and the books women read. The primary goal of Women’s Roles in Eighteenth-Century America is to consider, describe, and explain how women and girls lived during this time and place. What was everyday life like for a wealthy white woman living in Boston or Philadelphia? What was life like for her servants? How did the mistress of a southern plantation live? How did the enslaved women around her live? What kind of work did a farm housewife do? How did life change for Native American women as European settlers encroached upon their tribal lands? How were their lives changed by war, religious revivals, education, and epidemics, as well as by marriage, childbirth, and widowhood? What opportunities were available to any of these women? These are some of the questions that I explore in this book, while also considering how perceptions about women changed during this century.

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