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Good wives : image and reality in the lives of women in northern New England, 1650-1750

Author: Laurel Ulrich
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1991.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : 1st Vintage books edView all editions and formats
Summary:
Good Wives sheds an illuminating light on the lives of early American women in New England. Ulrich states that this book is a study of role definition, and she organizes her text around three role clusters associated with three Biblical women (an appropriate framework for the religious societies of colonial New England). Her three prototypes are Bathsheeba for economic affairs, Eve for sexual/reproductive matters,  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Laurel Ulrich
ISBN: 0679732578 9780679732570
OCLC Number: 230740521
Notes: Originally published: New York : Knopf, 1982.
Description: xv, 296 pages, [16] leaves of plates : illustrations, map, portraits ; 21 cm
Contents: I: Bathsheba --
The ways of her household --
Deputy husbands --
A friendly neighbor --
Pretty gentlewomen --
II: Eve --
The serpent beguiled me --
Consort --
Travail --
Mother of all living --
III: Jael --
Blessed above women --
Viragoes --
Captives --
Daughters of Zion.
Responsibility: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.
More information:

Abstract:

Good Wives sheds an illuminating light on the lives of early American women in New England. Ulrich states that this book is a study of role definition, and she organizes her text around three role clusters associated with three Biblical women (an appropriate framework for the religious societies of colonial New England). Her three prototypes are Bathsheeba for economic affairs, Eve for sexual/reproductive matters, and Jael for matters of female aggression within the bounds of religion. Ulrich identifies and expounds upon the following roles for colonial New England women: housewife, deputy husband, consort, mother, mistress, neighbor, Christian, and--in some cases--heroism. While women were subservient to men, they could assert themselves to certain degrees within the social framework of life. For example, women commonly helped men with their work, conducted business matters in the place of a husband who was unavailable, oversaw the raising of all neighborhood children collectively, dominated the frequent occasions of childbirth, and indirectly exercised influence within the churches. In some of the most interesting material in the book, Ulrich examines the accounts of females captured by Indians. Although she finds significant differences between them in terms of their levels of submissiveness and aggression toward their captors, she develops a framework in which these differences can be understood within early New England society as a whole. The real magic of the book is its success in describing the normal, daily lives of women and comparing and contrasting the stories of those residing in urban centers, town outskirts, and frontier homes. While the lack of primary source material makes it impossible to know the true aspects of these pioneer New England women, Good Wives offers a sweeping yet individualized picture of an important part of colonial society in all its aspects, a society in which the boundaries of men and women did sometimes blur within the individual household.

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