ABC-CLIO/Greenwood - Reference

Women in Early America

Struggle, Survival, and Freedom in a New World

by Dorothy A. Mays


The women of early America were not fighting only for equal rights, they were struggling for basic survival. Women's contributions enabled settlements to flourish; homes, crops, government, and education were established in the early years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where there were about as many women as men.

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Cover image for Women in Early America

November 2004


Pages 495
Volumes 1
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics American History/Gender
  • Hardcover



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    Hardcover: £81.00/88,00€/A$135.00

This volume fills a gap in traditional women's history books by offering fascinating details of the lives of early American women and showing how these women adapted to the challenges of daily life in the colonies.

Women in Early America: Struggle, Survival, and Freedom in a New World provides insight into an era in American history when women had immense responsibilities and unusual freedoms. These women worked in a range of occupations such as tavernkeeping, printing, spiritual leadership, trading, and shopkeeping. Pipe smoking, beer drinking, and premarital sex were widespread. One of every eight people traveling with the British Army during the American Revolution was a woman.

The coverage begins with the 1607 settlement at Jamestown and ends with the War of 1812. In addition to the role of Anglo-American women, the experiences of African, French, Dutch, and Native American women are discussed. The issues discussed include how women coped with rural isolation, why they were prone to superstitions, who was likely to give birth out of wedlock, and how they raised large families while coping with immense household responsibilities.


  • Nearly 200 A–Z entries on women's lives, contributions, and struggles during the years of early America
  • Illustrations of the habits of dress, material goods, and buildings that reflect the culture of these women
  • Extensive annotated bibliography of recommended readings covering legal issues, ethnic groups, customs, and novels set during the era
  • Sidebars highlighting interesting experiences of early American women


  • Focuses on a segment of American women's history typically shortchanged in standard reference sources, providing an inspiring and instructive look at the contributions of women in America's formative years
  • Offers insight into women from cultural groups often neglected such as the Dutch, French, African, and Native American women who lived in the colonies
  • Gives documentation of the complexity of women's experience during a time before laws, customs, and the Industrial Revolution
  • A vivid compilation of historical research capturing the drama of women as they embarked on a new journey, forging a new life in a difficult and hostile environment
Author Info

Dorothy A. Mays is assistant professor and librarian at Rollins College, Winter Park, FL, specializing in the history of the early modern period.



"... the value of this work lies in the particular context it provides. It would be an excellent addition to academic and larger libraries."Booklist

"With entries linked by an analytical index, many 'see' references, and topical and alphabetic tables of contents, this resource offers large doses of easily accessible, hard-to-find-elsewhere information. Collectons of any size serving students of our country's past will find it a popular and worthwhile addition."School Library Journal

"Mays (librarian, Rollins College) offers in her fascinating encyclopedia insight into the lives of ordinary women, 1607–1812. Highly recommended. General and academic readers."Choice

"This work will be an excellent addition to any high school or college library."American Reference Books Annual

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