"Literally and metaphorically, the settlement of the New World wrought a sea change in the lives of those who experienced it. In To Comfort the Heart Paula Treckel explores the meaning of that change to the English, Native American, and African women in England's North American colonies. Focusing on the experience of English "huswives" and indentured servants, she reveals how their actions and expectations, as well as their relationships with women of other races and cultures, were shaped by Old World perceptions of woman's appropriate role." "The women who journeyed aboard ship from Old World to New, alone or with their families, found waiting for them both unaccustomed hardship and opportunity. The formidable task of settling and then surviving on the frontier was a collaborative enterprise in which the work of women was as necessary and sought after - if not always as valued once attained - as that of men. Once seen by some historians as a kind of "golden age" for women's rights, the colonial period in America presented frontier women with freedoms and responsibilities unprecedented in England - to choose their husbands, manage their households, enter into business dealings, and own property. Some women embraced these opportunities, but most longed for the security of their prescribed Old World roles. Struggling to re-create the world they left behind, they saw themselves as "civilizers" of the wilderness." "Treckel also relates the lesser-known stories of those women in colonial America who had no measurable "freedoms" at all - Native American and African women. She describes how the Western European perception of woman's role contributed to their denigration and how they fought to defend and preserve their cultures in the face of destruction and enslavement."--Jacket.