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.
"These essays reveal the exciting intellectual payoff of a transcultural approach to women’s lives in the past. Not only will readers confront a richly varied cast of historical actors, but they will come away convinced that women’s relationships to each other, to men, to the law, the economy, and culture were central to the experimentation and adaptation of colonialism and nation-building."
—Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, author of The Ties That Buy: Women and Commerce in Revolutionary America
"I really think this book will become a landmark volume. Without losing sight of any of the complexities integral to our postmodern sensibilities, the authors have managed to return to a crucial but too often neglected subject—the lived experiences of real women in Early America. Perhaps we can have it both ways after all."
—Camilla Townsend, Rutgers University
"A first-rate collection—vivid, varied, and provocative—that expands our view of early America. The expert essays interrogate sources, challenge assumptions, reconstruct mindsets, and vault over boundaries of nation, region, status, and culture."
—Nancy Woloch, Barnard College
"Sweeping in scope and impressive in originality, the essays collected in Women in Early America offer a timely assessment of the history of women in early America. The volume is strikingly diverse and remarkably inclusive, with essays that encompass the experiences of African, Native, and European women and their descendants and range geographically well beyond the eastern seaboard of North America to include the Caribbean, New Spain, New France, and indigenous settlements in the era before European contact. Highly readable and carefully researched, Women in Early America sparkles with insights that will fascinate and enlighten students and historians of gender, women, and early America."
—Terri L. Snyder, California State University, Fullerton
“Women in Early America, an ambitious series of eleven essays edited by Thomas A. Foster, offers a more compelling version of early America and its heroines. The collection attends to two lacunae at once by focusing on women, a group whose presence in the records is often hard to come by, to unearth overlooked and understudied figures only touched on in earlier research (if at all).”
—Alana Shilling-Janoff, Times Literary Supplement
"A number of essays are particularly valuable in that they examine understudied areas of women's experiences...Other essays provide new insight into better-studied subjects."
“Historians must still prove stubborn archives, using gender theory, to understand how Native American, African America, and European women participated fully in the development of North American societies. These essays fulfill this mandate admirably.”
—Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography
“One of the most fascinating aspects of the books in the authors’ use of sources, from court records to ledger books to church documents.”
New York University Press is proud to make many of our titles available in eBook editions. Below is the list of vendors that carry our titles in electronic format. Each vendor has its own pricing and delivery policies. Please follow the links below for more information.
Please list your name, institutional affiliation, course name and size, and institution address. NYU Press will cancel exam copy orders if information cannot be verified.