marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Good Wives

Good Wives:  Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England 1650-1750 by Laurel Thacher Ulrich

The title being a pun, as "Goodwife" was a title of address for a woman of ordinary status.  Though it covers women of higher rank and their roles, too.

Their economic roles, in the house, in the garden, out in the woods or by the shore, gathering, sometimes even in the orchard.  Acting on behalf of their husbands.  Their roles of mistresses -- whose servants were overwhelming girls mastering housewifery to go on to be mistresses themselves.  The "pretty gentlewomen."

Their roles in families.  Irregular behaviors, wives, pregnancy and labor -- it was normal for all sorts of women to gather for that, at one birth all the married women of one town were there -- and motherhood.  One woman lived to see 177 descendents  (to the third generation).

And women who came into the public view.  Through violence and crime, some.  Others through their captivities and escapes.  Or failure to escape.  Women were much more likely than men to stay in New France, especially those of marriagable age but unmarried.  Five of them, in fact, became nuns.  Others married the men who were there to woo them.  And their places in church, which was not an automatic thing.

Covers a lot of that era.
Tags: families: matrimony, families: parent/child, history reviews: 15th-18th centuries, world-building: economics, world-building: servants, world-building: social structure

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