Women and Freedom in Early America

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Larry Eldridge
NYU Press, 1997 - History - 354 pages
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It is virtually impossible to generalize about the degree to which women in early America were free. What, if anything, did enslaved black women in the South have in common with powerful female leaders in Iroquois society? Were female tavern keepers in the backcountry of North Carolina any more free than nuns and sisters in New France religious orders? Were the restrictions placed on widows and abandoned wives at all comparable to those experienced by autonomous women or spinsters?

Bringing to light the enormous diversity of women's experience, Women and Freedom in Early America centers variously on European-American, African-American, and Native American women from 1400 to 1800. Spanning almost half a millenium, the book ranges the colonial terrain, from New France and the Iroquois Nations down through the mainland British-American colonies. By drawing on a wide array of sources, including church and court records, correspondence, journals, poetry, and newspapers, these essays examine Puritan political writings, white perceptions of Indian women, Quaker spinsterhood, and African and Iroquois mythology, among many other topics.

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About the author (1997)

Larry Eldridge is Assistant Professor of History at the College of Arts and Sciences at Widener University and author of the acclaimed A Distant Heritage: The Growth of Free Speech in Early America, also from NYU Press.

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