Martha Ballard's Diary Analysis

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Laurel Thatcher Ulrich uses Martha Ballard’s diary to portray life in rural New England in the late 1700 and early 1800’s. Using this diary and other historical material she recreates the 27 years of life that Martha has disclosed in her diary. By using Martha’s life and words she recreates what living was like during the pre-industrial era. She features the role that midwives and women in general played in the economical survival of families during this era. The diary by itself does not shed light on all the social and cultural traditions of Martha Ballard’s time. By using it with other historical information Ulrich was able to spin a story that gave an understanding of this era. It also shows why Ballard’s story is worth reading about and…show more content…
Usually the husband or family of the expectant mother would give her a ride to or from a birthing. If this did not happen she was independent enough to get there on her own. There are very few instances that she records her husband or sons taking her. She also took care of her own payments and debts. This was usually taken care of by the man. Ballard was also paid well for her services. Ulrich made sure not to ignore the unpleasantness provided in Ballard’s diary. She dedicates Chapter 3 to the dismissal of Reverend Foster and the rape of his wife. It was then as now basically a he said, she said situation. Although the accused Judge North was acquitted it is very apparent that Martha and probably others think that he was guilty. She wrote, “North acquitted to the great surprise of all that I heard speak of it.” Ulrich points out that “for almost four years after Isaac Foster’s dismissal Martha neglected ‘Public Worship’.” According to her diary entries Martha made a point of not interfering in public business. She did not want others messing in her affairs so she chose not to comment on the dismissal of the reverend. She did however chose to stop attending public worship service for a few years. She did not stray from God though because she mentions him all the time in her
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