Women in Early America, edited by Thomas A. Foster, tells the fascinating stories of the myriad women who shaped the early modern North American world from the colonial era through the first years of the Republic. This volume goes beyond the familiar stories of Pocahontas or Abigail Adams, recovering the lives and experiences of lesser-known women–both ordinary and elite, enslaved and free, Indigenous and immigrant–who lived and worked in not only British mainland America, but also New Spain, New France, New Netherlands, and the West Indies.
In these essays we learn about the conditions that women faced during the Salem witchcraft panic and the Spanish Inquisition in New Mexico; as indentured servants in early Virginia and Maryland; caught up between warring British and Native Americans; as traders in New Netherlands and Detroit; as slave owners in Jamaica; as Loyalist women during the American Revolution; enslaved in the President’s house; and as students and educators inspired by the air of equality in the young nation.
Foster showcases the latest research of junior and senior historians, drawing from recent scholarship informed by women’s and gender history–feminist theory, gender theory, new cultural history, social history, and literary criticism. Collectively, these essays address the need for scholarship on women’s lives and experiences. Women in Early America heeds the call of feminist scholars to not merely reproduce male-centered narratives, “add women, and stir,” but to rethink master narratives themselves so that we may better understand how women and men created and developed our historical past.