Virtuous Women Found Summary

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Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, in her article “Vertuous Women Found: New England Ministerial Literature, 1668-1735,” argues the ministerial writings of New England during the late seventeenth-early eighteenth century promoted an ideology of gender equality within a larger paradoxical environment. The dominant Puritan culture in which they lived created a separation of status within diverging social and spiritual fields. While legal, economic, and educational opportunities for women were severely limited in society, there existed a pervasive inherent equality among the sexes in regards to godly matters. (Ulrich, 37) To Support her claim, Ulrich relies heavily on ministerial literature, which consisted of marriage sermons, childbirth treatises, and funeral eulogies.
Through the examination of funeral literature Ulrich is able to describe the behavioral characteristics of a virtuous Puritan woman; s.g., a desire to seek god early, to read the bible, to converse through pious discourse, to write, to love to go to church and have the willingness to submit to God’s will. (Ulrich, 22-26) To the author, these traits imply that “while a godly woman was expected to act appropriately in all
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Dallet hemphill focuses her study, “Women in Courts: Sex-Role Differentiation in Salem, Massachusetts, 1636 to 1683” on reconstructing the social life of women in the first five decades following colonization. Hemphill approaches the article from a legal standpoint, choosing to emphasize primarily on women’s rights within the laws of society by examining Essex county court records and depositions. In doing so, she differentiates between the experiences of women pre and post 1670s. According to Hemphill, prior to the late 1670s the daily experiences of men and women were difficult to separate. Women likely assisted in farming and trade activities, contributed to familial economic decisions, and owned and sold property freely. (Hemphill,
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