At times the assertions in Jennifer L. Morgan’s Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery can seem unexpectedly straightforward, for example when she merely states that, “African women were there” (197). At other points, the connections she proposes between race, gender, the body, colonialism, and ideology are almost overwhelmingly entangled and complex. But it is perhaps this mix of the explicit and the theoretical that make the book such an insightful and transformative work in the field of early Atlantic history. For while her topic is focused, the depth of her questioning, the scope of her research, and the attention she pays to the theoretical framework within that topic are profound.
Thesis: Ulrich argues that colonial women of northern New England “were part of much larger changes in the history of the western world, yet they are best understood in the close exploration of the lives of ordinary women and men (241).” She also argues that while she focuses on northern New England, that much of what she has discovered is true of other parts of British colonial North America (xiv).
In her article, “Three Inventories, Three Households”, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich argues that women’s work was crucial not simply for subsistence but that “women were essentials in the seventeenth century for the very same reasons they are essentials today-for the perpetuation of the race” (Ulrich 51). She believes, women were expected to do everything. They were not only to take care of the children, but they were also cook, clean, raise the greens and ranches. Mainly, women plays important role for the survival and continuation of life.
The first colony was founded at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Many of the people who settled in the New World came to escape religious persecution and various other reasons. In this paper we will explore the many roles both male and female colonists as well as Native Africans played.
Around the late 18th to early 19th century, colonial American New England life was centered on living independently and being finally free from the British Empire after the Revolutionary War. Establishing control of a newly founded government with set functions and a first president, there were progressive changes that America had to act upon post-war. However, behind the political aspects that are greatly highlighted in American history, the roles of women in society, particularly midwives shouldn’t be cast aside. Although women were largely marginalized in early New England life because of their gender, nevertheless Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A Midwife’s Tale is instructive because it demonstrates the privilege of men’s authority in society
In the nineteenth century, woman had no power over men in society. They were limited in their freedom, as their lives were controlled by their husbands. Some women did not mind this lifestyle, and remained obedient, while some rebelled and demanded their rights. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, are short stories that exposes the lifestyle women lived in the nineteenth century. The protagonists from both stories, Jane and Georgiana, similarly lived a male dominated lifestyle. Although both Georgiana and Jane lived the same era, in which their husbands dominated them, their behaviors, social reputation, and tolerance differed.
In the pastoralization of housework, woman found a new dynamic in the family system by becoming influencers. Boydston writes, “‘...in which wives were described as deities “who presides over the sanctities of domestic life, and administer its sacred rights….”” With the romanization of housework woman found themselves placed on a higher pedestal, and with this newly found power, women were able to influence their husband’s decisions. Women during the Antebellum period were described as “holy and pious” and they were seen as the more religious being out of the two sexes, so it was customary for women to use their power to help the family stay on the right path. Mrs. A. J. Graves supported this idea and directly connects women’s role of taking care of the home to a station which God and nature assigned her. Not only, did Mrs. A. J. Graves support the pastoralization of housework and gender spheres so did Catherine Beecher. Beecher argued that housework was hard work, but believed women’s work in the home administered the gentler charities of life. Boydston writes, “Beecher enjoyed the new standing afford middle-class women by their roles as moral guardians to their families and to societies, and based much of her own claim to status as a woman on the presumed differences between herself and immigrant and laboring-class women.” For middle-class women, women were given more of an influence in their
In the novel, Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, a lot of ignorance and intelligence is demonstrated all through the book which in a way is dangerous. Kindred is a wonderful work of science fiction that catches the attention of readers by telling a story of Dana, a modern-day African-American woman, who is abruptly transported from California in 1976 to the antebellum South. Not only is Dana abruptly transported back in time but she’s able to experience first-hand the cruelty of enslaved black women and men in the 1800s. The experiences of Dana and the enslaved women in the novel were viewed as mostly women working in households. However, it’s a known fact that the majority of enslaved women worked in the fields. In this novel, the enslaved women experiences mostly consisted of having to work in households as cooks, housekeepers; some as sexual slaves, and how some women became so used to the abuse that it was a norm.
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.
In her book, ‘A Midwife’s Tale’, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich explores the social position of women in society and the subsequent change in their roles in early American society by studying the life of Martha Ballard. In her book, she questions the impact that the Revolutionary War and the independence of the United States of America had on the lives of American women like Martha Ballard. Martha’s apathy toward politics, her silence of gender inequality of that time and her continuous focus on her daily routine to earn for her family demonstrate that Martha Ballard’s identity of being a colonial goodwife remained unchanged economically, politically and socially by the Revolution and the decades that followed.
Harriet Jacobs, referred to in the book as Linda Brent, was a strong, caring, Native American mother of two children Benny and Ellen. She wrote a book about her life as a slave and how she earned freedom for herself and her family. Throughout her book she also reveals countless examples of the limitations slavery can have on a mother. Her novel, also provides the readers a great amount of examples of how motherhood has been corrupted by slavery. A Moment is defined as “a very brief period of time” (Google.com). The specific moment that I had chose in the Incidence in The Life of a Slave Girl is “I feared that the sight of my children would be too much for my full heart; but I could not go out into the uncertain future without one last look.
These colonies came across numerous hardships with war, famine, and political turmoil, in the 1600’s. These colonies worked for commercial purposes and neglected the need for relationship building with natives, safety, and resource gathering, so much so that they lost many early settlers. Working as an indentured servant was brutal in these colonies. Growing, storing, and packaging tobacco was very labor intensive work. Though indentured servants maintained contracts providing them with food, housing, and clothing, often times terms of service were lengthened. Being a woman in these areas was also scary due to its mostly bachelor
In colonial North America, the lives of women were distinct and described in the roles exhibited in their inscriptions. In this book, Good Wives the roles of woman were neither simple nor insignificant. Ulrich proves in her writing that these women did it all. They were considered housewives, deputy husbands, mistresses, consorts, mothers, friendly neighbors, and last but not least, heroines. These characteristics played an important role in defining what the reality of women’s lives consisted of.
In the nineteenth century, American writers became obsessed with the Realism movement. They started to focus on problems of that century such as wife abuse, child neglect and women’s freedom. They wrote about the middle class that suffers from different social problems especially women who act against their social norms and traditions. Realistic writers try to represent the events and social conditions as they really are without idealism. They show the harsh and cruel reality of the surrounding environment that women live in without framing that reality in beautiful frame. This is obvious in William Dean Howells’s “Editha” and Henry James’s “Daisy Miller”. Both Editha and Daisy share the same characteristic of the New Woman. These two women redefine the feminine ideology of women who suffer from following the social norms of their culture. They believe that women should have freedom as well as men, and they are responsible for making decisions in their lives without under
In the ancient world each society exercised different treatment towards women, today, unlike during the ancient world, women enjoy more freedom, rights, and equality.