Women's Roles in Eighteenth-Century America

by Merril D. Smith


It was a time of transition as the British colonies in North America gradually, then suddenly, moved toward independence. It was also a time of transition for American women—those whose lives were centered around the domestic responsibilities of home and family, as well as those who were branching out into roles once exclusively male.

Print Flyer

February 2010


Pages 182
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics American History/Gender

This book offers a look at how the lives of women changed in the era when the United States emerged.

Spanning the broad spectrum of Colonial-era life, Women's Roles in Eighteenth-Century America is a revealing exploration of how 18-century American women of various races, classes, and religions were affected by conditions of the times—war, slavery, religious awakenings, political change, perceptions about gender—as well as how they influenced the world around them.

Women's Roles in Eighteenth-Century America covers the area of North America that became the United States and follows the transformation of the British colonies into a new nation. The book is organized thematically to examine marriage and the family, the law, work, travel, war, religion, and education and the arts. Each chapter combines current research and primary sources to offer authoritative portraits of real lives of the everyday women during this pivotal early era in our history.


  • Offers a chronology of social, political, and cultural events in 18th-century America that involved or affected women
  • Includes 16 portraits, cartoons, illustrations of women, women's work, and events in 18th-century America


  • Draws on recent research to portray the lives of 18th-century white, African American, and Native American women across the social spectrum
  • Explores not only how perceptions of women changed over the century, but also how women helped to shape and influence the world around them
  • Shows the fluid nature of women's roles during the 18th century and explains how they participated and reacted to such key events as the Great Awakening and the American Revolution
Series Description

Women's Roles through History

All around the world, women's vital role in history has only recently been acknowledged. Yet regardless of the era or the corresponding extent to which women's contributions have been previously ignored, underestimated, or misunderstood, women have always been instrumental to shaping human civilization and society.

Books in the Women's Roles through History series examine women's roles throughout a wide range of time periods and locations, including the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean during the colonial period, the American West in the 19th century, and countries in Asia in the modern day. The broad coverage of these titles includes women from peasants and slaves to queens and presidents, documenting the female experience within the contexts of family, work, politics, law, education, religion, arts and entertainment, science, and war.


  • Provides excellent reference information or material for classroom assignments for junior college and university-level courses
  • Examines the various nuanced dimensions and variations in women's lives and their roles in society due to different sociocultural arrangements; economic, political, religious, or legal influences; or historic events
  • Draws upon a wide variety of historical sources to promote an accurate, insightful, and engaging understanding of women's contributions and experiences throughout history and across all cultures
  • Offers insightful, accurate information about the extent of women's roles throughout world history that challenges common stereotypical images of females
  • Supplies extensive bibliographies of suggested readings and resources to promote further research on women's roles
Author Info

Merril D. Smith is an independent scholar living in National Park, NJ. Smith is the author or editor of several books, including Women's Roles in Seventeenth-Century America and the Encyclopedia of Rape.



"Recommended. Undergraduate collections."—Choice

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Other Titles of Interest

Women's Roles in Asia cover imageWomen's Roles in Sub-Saharan Africa cover imageWomen's Roles in Latin America and the Caribbean cover image
Women's Roles in Nineteenth-Century America cover imageWomen's Roles in the Middle East and North Africa cover imageWomen's Roles in the Middle Ages cover image

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