First Generations: Women in Colonial Americaby Carol Berkin
Indian, European, and African women of seventeenth and eighteenth-century America were defenders of their native land, pioneers on the frontier, willing immigrants, and courageous slaves. They were also - as traditional scholarship tends to omit - as important as men in shaping American culture and history. This remarkable work is a gripping portrait that gives… See more details below
Indian, European, and African women of seventeenth and eighteenth-century America were defenders of their native land, pioneers on the frontier, willing immigrants, and courageous slaves. They were also - as traditional scholarship tends to omit - as important as men in shaping American culture and history. This remarkable work is a gripping portrait that gives early-American women their proper place in history.
The New York Review of Books
The Women's Review of Books
Berkin (History/Baruch Coll.) admits in her chatty preface that this book took her years longer to write than she originally intended, and the result was more than worth the wait. First Generations is a careful, detailed study of colonial life with something morea personal touch, an easy narrative style, and a comprehensive approach. Not that this slim volume offers the last word on the subject. What it does provide is a vivid, sympathetic, fascinating introduction to a rich field demanding further study. Berkin reveals some of the realities of life for women in colonial America by focusing on a number of remarkable individuals both famous and unknown, among them Wetamo, a Wampanoag leader who fought mightily against the English colonists who invaded her home; Margaret Hardenbroeck, a successful Dutch businesswoman in New Amsterdam who lost her economic rights when the English conquered the colony in 1664; Mary Johnson, a captive African who eventually became a free and fairly prosperous farmer; and Eliza Lucas Pinckney, a member of South Carolina's aristocracy, who successfully ran her father's plantation in his absence when she was only 15 years old. These and other women form the foundation of Berkin's narrative, which goes on to illuminate how these individuals fit into the general patterns of colonial life. And while Berkin admits that the historical records favor some groups over others, she herself focuses her attention equally on all, while never appearing to sacrifice the integrity of the work for political correctness.
A wonderful introduction to this fascinating subject.
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Meet the Author
Carol Berkin is Professor of History at the City University of New York Graduate Center. She is the author of A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution, Women's Voices/Women's Lives: Documents in Early American History, and coeditor, with Mary Beth Norton, of Women of America: A History.
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She spends more time on the men than she does the women! I was expecting more.