Women and Freedom in Early America / Edition 1

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It is virtually impossible to generalize about the degree to which women in early America were free. What, if anything, did enslaved black women in the South have in common with powerful female leaders in Iroquois society? Were female tavern keepers in the backcountry of North Carolina any more free than nuns and sisters in New France religious orders? Were the restrictions placed on widows and abandoned wives at all comparable to those experienced by autonomous women or spinsters?

Bringing to light the enormous diversity of women's experience, Women and Freedom in Early America centers variously on European-American, African-American, and Native American women from 1400 to 1800. Spanning almost half a millenium, the book ranges the colonial terrain, from New France and the Iroquois Nations down through the mainland British-American colonies. By drawing on a wide array of sources, including church and court records, correspondence, journals, poetry, and newspapers, these essays examine Puritan political writings, white perceptions of Indian women, Quaker spinsterhood, and African and Iroquois mythology, among many other topics.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814721988
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 366
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry Eldridge is Assistant Professor of History at the College of Arts and Sciences at Widener University and author of the acclaimed A Distant Heritage: The Growth of Free Speech in Early America, also from NYU Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Remarkable Diversity 1
1 Gender and the Longhouse: Iroquois Women in a Changing Culture 7
2 Women of the New France Noblesse 26
3 Princesses, Wives, and Wenches: White Perceptions of Southeastern Indian Women to 1770 44
4 Freedom Among African Women Servants and Slaves in the Seventeenth-Century British Colonies 62
5 "My Dear Liberty": Quaker Spinsterhood and Female Autonomy in Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania 83
6 Women, Religion, and Freedom in New France 109
7 Wise Virgins and Pious Mothers: Spiritual Community among Baptist Women of the Delaware Valley 127
8 "What Providence Has Brought Them to Be": Widows, Work, and the Print Culture of Colonial Charleston 147
9 "To Have a Sufficient Maintenance": Women and the Economics of Freedom in Frontier Pennsylvania, 1750-1800 167
10 Women and Economic Freedom in the North Carolina Backcountry 191
11 "Whers Gone to She Knows Not": Desertion and Widowhood in Early Pennsylvania 211
12 The Marriage Metaphor in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts 229
13 "If Widow, Both Housewife and Husband May Be": Widows' Testamentary Freedom in Colonial Massachusetts and Maryland 244
14 Women of "No Particular Home": Town Leaders and Female Transients in Rhode Island, 1750-1800 269
15 The Free Women of Charles Parish, York County, Virginia, 1630-1740 290
16 Mitigating Inequality: Women and Justice in Colonial New York 313
Selected Bibliography 331
Contributors 347
Index 351
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