9781558888326 / 1558888322

Woman's Life in Colonial Days


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Publisher:Omnigraphics, 1990



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About the book:

First published, 1922.


This book is an attempt to portray by means of the writings of colonial
days the life of the women of that period,--how they lived, what their
work and their play, what and how they thought and felt, their strength
and their weakness, the joys and the sorrows of their everyday
existence. Through such an attempt perhaps we can more nearly understand
how and why the American woman is what she is to-day.

For a long time to come, one of the principal reasons for the study of
the writings of America will lie, not in their intrinsic merit alone,
but in their revelations of American life, ideals, aspirations, and
social and intellectual endeavors. We Americans need what Professor
Shorey has called "the controlling consciousness of tradition." We have
not sufficiently regarded the bond that connects our present
institutions with their origins in the days of our forefathers. That is
one of the main purposes of this study, and the author believes that
through contributions of such a character he can render the national
intellectual spirit at least as valuable a service as he could through a
study of some legend of ancient Britain or some epic of an extinct race.
As Mr. Percy Boynton has said, "To foster in a whole generation some
clear recognition of other qualities in America than its bigness, and of
other distinctions between the past and the present than that they are
far apart is to contribute towards the consciousness of a national
individuality which is the first essential of national life.... We
must put our minds upon ourselves, we must look to our past and to our
present, and then intelligently to our future."

The author has endeavored to follow such advice by bringing forward
those qualities of colonial womanhood which have made for the
refinement, the intellectuality, the spirit, the aggressiveness, and
withal the genuine womanliness of the present-day American woman. As the
book is not intended for scholars alone, the author has felt free when
he had not original source material before him to quote now and then
from the studies of writers on other phases of colonial life--such as
the valuable books by Dr. Philip Alexander Bruce, Dr. John Bassett, Dr.
George Sydney Fisher, Charles C. Coffin, Alice Brown, Alice Morse Earle,
Anna Hollingsworth Wharton, and Geraldine Brooks.

The author believes that many misconceptions have crept into the mind of
the average reader concerning the life of colonial women--ideas, for
instance, of unending long-faced gloom, constant fear of pleasure,
repression of all normal emotions. It is hoped that this book will go
far toward clearing the mind of the reader of such misconceptions, by
showing that woman in colonial days knew love and passion, felt longing
and aspiration, used the heart and the brain, very much as does her
descendant of to-day.

For permission to quote from the works mentioned hereafter, the author
wishes to express his gratitude to Sydney G. Fisher and the J.B.
Lippincott Company (_Men, Women and Manners in Colonial Days_), Ralph L.
Bartlett, executor for Charles C. Coffin, (_Old Times in Colonial
Days_), Alice Brown and Charles Scribner's Sons (_Mercy Warren_), Philip
Alexander Bruce and the Macmillan Company (_Institutional History of
Virginia in the Seventeenth Century_), Anne H. Wharton (_Martha
Washington_), John Spencer Bassett (_Writings of Colonel Byrd_), Alice
Earle Hyde (_Alice Morse Earl's Child Life in Colonial Days_), Geraldine
Brooks and Thomas Y. Crowell Company (_Dames and Daughters of Colonial
Days_). The author wishes to acknowledge his deep indebtedness to the
late Sylvia Brady Holliday, whose untiring investigations of the subject
while a student under him contributed much to this book.


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