What was life like for women in the American colonies? Did colonial women lead the sober, cheerless lives of hardship often portrayed by later generations? Professor Holliday's classic study, drawn from a wide range of sources, suggests otherwise. Dispelling images of the lives of colonial woman as endless gloom and suffering, accompanied by fear of pleasure, and repression of normal emotions, Holliday shows that colonial women knew love and passion, felt longing and aspiration, used the heart and the brain, and often led rich, fulfilling lives.
Studying letters, diaries, and contemporary accounts, Holliday finds that the women of the New England and Southern colonies often were well educated, politically astute, charming hostesses under the most adverse circumstances, and capable of managing their husbands' business when necessary. Life as a colonial woman was difficult, however, in the best of circumstances, and this fascinating glimpse of the day-to-day lives and activities of colonial women reveals the hardships they endured, regardless of social station. The rigors of childbirth, the death of children, the ravages of war, accidents, and disease, and the sheer physical strain of colonial life weighed upon all women.
Although their lives often were harsh, and always were filled with hard work, colonial women sustained a variety of interests common to many modern women: domestic skills, religion, education, marriage, children, personal adornment, and social life. These topics and many more are thoroughly examined in this charmingly, thoughtfully written and well-documented account that pays tribute to the courage, faith, and endurance of American women in colonial days.
Reprint of the Cornhill Publishing Company, Boston, MA, 1922 edition.