Summary Of Laurel Thatcher's Essay 'Martha Ballard And Her Girls'

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Who runs the world? Girls. The life of Martha Ballard, a strong and independent woman Laurel Thatcher wrote that “Martha Ballard was as independent as an eighteenth-century housewife could be.” In her essay “Martha Ballard and Her Girls”, she analyzes the diary of Martha Ballard; a midwife in the 18th century; who recorded her experiences and works on a daily basis in her diary. Martha wrote in her diary for 27 years, from 1785 to 1812, while living in Hallowell, Maine. Laurel Thatcher proves that Martha Ballard was an exceptional independent woman who was also constrained by the expectations put on women. Thatcher portrayed the quality of women’s lives through the life of Martha Ballard and the women around her. Martha Ballard’s family comprised of three sons and three daughters as well as her husband, Ephraim. Martha’s daughters helped her with house, garden, and yard work. Since her daughters helped her with what needed to be done, she…show more content…
Since Martha Ballard’s occupation brought her income, although lower than her husband’s, she encompassed the ability to purchase items that she needed and/or wanted. In example, even though in 1791 Mr. Ballard “relinquish[ed] from the sawmills in march”, Mrs. Ballard still acquired the “ability to buy a new dress in September.” This shows her income and Mr. Ballard’s income did not coincide. Martha Ballard did not have to depend on her husband’s money or connections, because she obtained her own. Ballard’s diary shows she “traded textiles and farm products with her female neighbors as well as physic and obstetrical services.” This portrays the female economy that was present in the colonial times and beyond. Women traded their goods and services to other women creating their own economy. Martha traded with women while Ephraim traded with men, which gave her the independence to improve her own work and house
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