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WOMEN and WORK in COLONIAL NEW ENGLAND
RESOURCES and LINKS

Theme: An Industrious People: American Economic History
Topic: Women and Work in Colonial New England
Date: Summer 2005

Annotated Bibliography | Primary Sources - Print | Websites and Web Resources
Related Archives and Collections | Other

Resources and Links compiled and annotated SALEM in History staff


Annotated Bibliography
Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff

Secondary Sources

Carr, Lois Green and Lorena Walsh. “The Planter’s Wife: The Experience of White Women in Seventeenth-Century Maryland.” William and Mary Quarterly 3rd ser. 34 (1977): 542-71.

This is the place to begin any investigation of women’s lives in the Chesapeake.

Crane, Elaine Foreman. Ebb Tide in New England: Women, Seaports, and Social Change,1630-1800. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.

Wonderful book on the interaction of biology, economics, politics and ideology in the colonial era.

Gilgun, Beth. Tidings from the 18th Century: Colonial American How-To & Living History. Texarkana, TX: Scurlock Publishing Co., 1993

Provides information, background, patterns and instructions to recreate the colonial American lifestyle. Information for making clothes for the family, cooking, brewing, basketmaking, dyeing, making soap and candles, and 18th century needlepoint. Includes  information on making pockets. This book is illustrated and includes very clear instructions.

Hawke, David Freeman. Everyday Life in Early America. New York: Perennial, 1988.

A rich survey of how early Americans worked, played and lived. In particular, see chapters on “The House” and “The Home.” Includes photographs of objects from museum collections. 

Kamensky, Jane. The Colonial Mosaic: American Women 1600-1760. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Highly readable overview of women’s lives in all areas of the colonies. Includes well- chosen visuals. Reading level and length make this appropriate for high school students as well as advanced middle school students.

Newell, Margaret Ellen. “The Birth of New England in the Atlantic Economy: From Its Beginning to 1770.” In Peter Temin ed. Engines of Enterprise: An Economic History of New England. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Useful overview of the broad economic and industrial activities of colonial New England. Household work and the household economy is integrated. Excellent for contextualizing women’s economic activities.

Nylander, Jane C. Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home, 1760 – 1860. Reissue Edition, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.

A series of excellent essays by Nylander, a museum curator and director, describing the customs, traditions, friends, families, and workloads of the "typical" New England household. Chapters on housework, seasons, clothing, food, and holidays document women's work at home.162 period illustrations enliven this useful and intimate study of New England domestic life.

Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (January 1983).

Special issue of this magazine with useful essays on economic aspects of colonial women’s lives.

Salmon, Marylynn. Women and the Law of Property in Early America. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1986.

            A good source for understanding women and the law in Early America.

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750. New York: Knopf, 1980. Reprint, New York:             Vintage Books, 1991.

Canonical book. Explores and brings to light the range of activities, roles, expectations and reality of white colonial “goodwives” in New England. Uses evidence in creative   ways; demonstrates the expansive role women played in colonial America. Offers a   glimpse into that life.

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812. Reprint Edition. New York: Vintage 1991.

Bancroft and Pulitzer Prize-winning book and a must-read for those interested in the shape and scope of women’s live in the colonial and early republic periods. This explication of Ballard's diary recounts the life and times of a Maine housewife and   midwife. Using passages from the diary as a starting point for each chapter division, Ulrich details Martha’s daily/intimate world and demonstrates how the seemingly trivial details of Ballard's daily life reflect and relate to prominent themes in the history of the early republic: the role of women in the economic life of the community, the nature of marriage and sexual relations, the scope of medical knowledge and practice. The Maine frontier of Martha’s time was much like the Salem/ more southern New England of a generation earlier, thus the many details of daily life that this book offers have resonance for studies of earlier periods in New England history as well. 

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of the American Myth. New York: Vintage, 2002.

Ulrich uses ordinary household goods—baskets, needlework, tablecloth, stockings—to explore the economic and social structures of colonial America. Written by the author of the Good Wives and the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Midwife’s Tale.

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Primary Sources - Print

The Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts. Vol. II, 1665-1674. Salem, MA: The Essex Institute, 1917.

            Available at Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

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Websites and Web Resources
Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff

"A Day in the Life"
Colonial Williamsburg

This portion of the Colonial Williamsburg website teaches users about the everyday life of women and men in the colonial south. It also includes a wonderful interactive activity where users select items of clothing and dress a character in the clothing appropriate to his/her class, in the process learning about the different types of clothing and their purposes. A version of this activity for younger children is available here: http://www.history.org/kids/games/dollGame.cfm. The “Women’s Clothing” page of the website also includes information colonial-era clothing: http://www.history.org/history/clothing/women/index.cfm.

Colonial House
PBS

The “Interactive History” portion of the website for the PBS reality series set in New England in 1628 includes activities on geography and clothing in the colonies.

Common-place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life

Covering topics related to the history and culture of early America (through 1900), this online journal and meeting place for ideas and scholarship was created to bridge the gap between what academic historians write and what the public wants to read, Common-place brings together historians and history buffs, high school teachers and archivists, collectors and college students, to explore and exchange ideas about American history." Its tone is a bit less scholarly than a traditional journal, but the content no less stimulating or professional (Note that the Editorial Board is made up of some of the most renowned historians of Early America). Includes feature articles, reviews, curriculum ideas, explorations of objects and artifacts, and a discussion board serving a wide range of interests and needs among Early Americanists in K-12 schools, museums, archives and universities. Focus is on the “common-place” or “ordinary” in early America, so not much about great men and Presidents, but rather about ordinary men and women and their world. No digital archives here, but simply one of the best places to go for up-to-date and engaging writing and conversation about pre-1900 America. Great for teachers: In each edition, the “Common School” section of site offers an example and detailed discussion of a classroom teaching experience using primary source material. 

Essex County Probate Inventories (selected)
Salem State College History Department

Salem State College professor Tad Baker compiled and transcribed this selection of early probate inventories from Salem and Beverly. Also included are tips on how to read early inventories.

Historic Cost-of-Living Calculator

Calculate the purchasing power of money in any year from 1665 to 2003.

"How to Read Probate Records"
DoHistory

Offers a step-by-step guide to using probate records in historical research. Other pages of the “History Toolkit” section of the DoHistory website (http://dohistory.org) include how-to guides to using different types of primary sources, written for the beginning historian. The DoHistory website is an experimental, interactive case study based on the research that went into the book and film A Midwife's Tale, which were both based upon the 200-year-old diary of midwife/healer Martha Ballard. Teachers can use this DoHistory website, the book, and the film A Midwife’s Tale to supplement texts and give students a chance to work with selected primary sources.

Seventeenth Century Colonial New England

A compilation of a multitude of links relating to colonial New England, including images, teaching material and museums.

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Related Archives and Collections
Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff

Boston National Historic Park

“Discover the revolutionary generation of Bostonians who blazed a trail from colonialism to independence. Boston National Historical Park is an association of sites that together give the visitor a coherent view of the city's role in the nation's history.” Sites in Boston and Charlestown are connected by the Freedom Trail. Educational programs and a visitor’s center available.

Historic New England

The collection of Historic New England includes several examples of women’s pockets and needlework, including some pictured here: http://www.historicnewengland.org/NEHM/NEWWSpringPage04.htm and here: http://www.historicnewengland.org/NEHM/2000SummerPage06.htm. Formerly SPNEA, Historic New England is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional preservation organization in the country. Their museum properties, library and archives are open to the public.

National Heritage Museum, Lexington, MA

The National Heritage Museum is a museum of American history and culture. The museum offers an array of changing exhibits on a wide range of topics. Highlight of museum is exhibit on life in Lexington, MA in the 18th century. All aspects of daily life are explored. Explore past and current exhibits on the museum’s homepage.

Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA

Old Sturbridge Village is a history museum and learning resource that invites all visitors to find meaning, pleasure, relevance, and inspiration in the exploration of New England's past. The centerpiece of the museum is a re-created rural New England town of the 1830s set on more than 200 acres of historical landscape, encompassing a Center Village, Mills Area, and Countryside.

Plimoth Plantation

Through its primary living history exhibits, the 1627 Pilgrim Village and Hobbamock's (Wampanoag) Homesite, Plimoth Plantation seeks to re-create the people, time and place of 17th-century Plymouth. Specially trained staff members, painstaking research, period costumes and dialect, authentically reproduced buildings and artifacts are some of the vital components of this unique experience. The Plimoth Plantation website includes articles on Plymouth Colony domestic life and an online activity.

Pilgrim Hall Museum

Pilgrim Hall Museumis a gallery museum in the center of historic Plymouth. Through its exhibition of Pilgrim possessions and Native American artifacts, Pilgrim Hall tells the stories of America’s founding and traditions in stirring detail. Included on the website is “The Pilgrim Story,” which combines artifacts with historical information to illuminate the Pilgrim and Native American story. Primary sources on the website include biographies and estate inventories of Pilgrims, historical writings about the Pilgrims and online lesson plans.

Strawberry Banke Museum (Portsmouth, New Hampshire)

Step over the threshold of history to life in New Hampshire's oldest seacoast neighborhood. Experience life from the late 1600s to the 1950s in this neighborhood known as Puddle Dock. The site, known today as Strawbery Banke Museum, offers a glimpse into the everyday lives of everyday people who called this area home for nearly four centuries. Includes school programs.

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Other
Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff

Children’s Books/ Print Resources for Teachers

Gilgun, Beth. Tidings from the 18th Century: Colonial American How-To & Living History. Texarkana, TX: Scurlock Publishing Co., 1993.

Provides information, background, patterns and instructions to recreate the colonial American lifestyle. Information for making clothes for the family, cooking, brewing, basketmaking, dyeing, making soap and candles, and 18th century needlepoint. Includes information on making pockets. This book is illustrated and includes very clear instructions.

Kamensky, Jane. The Colonial Mosaic: American Women 1600-1760. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Highly readable overview of women’s lives in all areas of the colonies. Includes well-chosen visuals. Reading level and length make this appropriate for high school students as well as advanced middle school students.

Mc Govern, Ann. If You Lived in Colonial Times. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1992.

Reading level appropriate for elementary school. Teaches children about the lives of their colonial counterparts. Provides information and illustrations on a range of topics from schooling to clothing to work and discipline. Great illustrations.

Videos

A Midwife’s Tale  (90 min.) Based on the Pulitzer Prize –winning history book by the same name, this historically accurate film depicts daily life/ domestic life in Colonial New England. Offers a wonderfully accessible visual look at a woman’s daily activities. Note: teachers should pre-screen to select key scenes.

Online Lesson Plans

Colonial House
PBS

The “For Teachers” portion of the website for the PBS reality series set in New England in 1628 includes lesson plans for middle school, based on viewing of portions of the television program.

Colonial Williamsburg

The “Teacher Resources” portion of the Colonial Williamsburg website includes a variety of lesson plans, including some relating to the role of women in the colonial economy: “Gardening in 18th Century Williamsburg,” “Colonial Home Remedies” and “The Two Williamsburgs.”

Historic New England

The “Resource Center” portion of the Historic New England website includes links to educational resources and Historic New England properties with collections relating to colonial New England.

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