A Companion to American Women's History
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This collection of twenty-four original essays by leading scholars in American women's history highlights the most recent important scholarship on the key debates and future directions of this popular and contemporary field.
- Covers the breadth of American Women's history, including the colonial family, marriage, health, sexuality, education, immigration, work, consumer culture, and feminism.
- Surveys and evaluates the best scholarship on every important era and topic.
- Includes expanded bibliography of titles to guide further research.
scholars have pointed to the centrality of women in this history. They have also opened up seldom used sources such as school records and housekeeping manuals and have encouraged scholars to look at more familiar documents such as marriage and birth records, deeds, court cases, and ships’ logs in new ways. Women in Colonial Societies One of the most critical contributions of recent studies on early colonial relations has been the recognition of indigenous women’s centrality to their own
be found organizing meetings, speaking in public assemblies, even on occasion serving as the divinely inspired leader of the new sect (Ann Lee and Jemima Wilkinson, to name just two examples). Within a generation, most of these sects (the Quakers are the big exception) had made the transition to social respectability and, in the process, disfranchised their female members in key ways. The Separate churches of New England, forged in an atmosphere of intense religious enthusiasm, took away women’s
der Straet (ca. 1575). Courtesy of the Burndy Library, Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. deed, served as a sexual metaphor that appealed to European men. William Strachey, for example, argued that the English could much better exploit “those benefits. . . which god hath given unto them [Indian men], but evolved and hid in the bowells and womb of their Land (to them barren, and unprofitable, because unknowne)” (cited in Brown 1996: 57). Sir
contradictory, role in women’s activism. Among Lowell mill operatives, for instance, church attendance was high; religion was embraced by many workers and attendance was mandated by factory owners, RELIGION, REFORM, AND RADICALISM 121 who supported the town’s ministers. Yet laboring women’s participation in strikes and other forms of collective action was nurtured elsewhere, in the dense kinship networks and communal living arrangements that characterized early factory life. Similarly,
example, suggests that through their writing “women bring us a new vision of the overland experience” and articulate a sensibility vastly distinct from that of men toward the peoples and places they encountered on the trail (1982: 15). One of women’s major refrains involved their fear over separation from family. While newlyweds and younger women spoke more favorably, women of childbearing age expressed their reluctance to leave home. The harsh conditions of childbirth, death, and widowhood were