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Women in the American Revolution

Gender, Politics, and the Domestic World
Edited by Barbara B. Oberg

BUY Cloth · 280 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813942599 · $39.50 · May 2019
BUY Ebook · 280 pp. · ISBN 9780813942605 · $39.50 · May 2019

Building on a quarter century of scholarship following the publication of the groundbreaking Women in the Age of the American Revolution, the engagingly written essays in this volume offer an updated answer to the question, What was life like for women in the era of the American Revolution? The contributors examine how women dealt with years of armed conflict and carried on their daily lives, exploring factors such as age, race, educational background, marital status, social class, and region.

For patriot women the Revolution created opportunities—to market goods, find a new social status within the community, or gain power in the family. Those who remained loyal to the Crown, however, often saw their lives diminished—their property confiscated, their businesses failed, or their sense of security shattered. Some essays focus on individuals (Sarah Bache, Phillis Wheatley), while others address the impact of war on social or commercial interactions between men and women. Patriot women in occupied Boston fell in love with and married British soldiers; in Philadelphia women mobilized support for nonimportation; and in several major colonial cities wives took over the family business while their husbands fought. Together, these essays recover what the Revolution meant to and for women.


This collection of excellent, carefully considered essays raises an important set of questions about gender and politics in the American Revolution and holds the potential to intervene in significant ways in a discussion that requires updating. We are long overdue for a new collection of essays on this important subject.

Carolyn Eastman, Virginia Commonwealth University, author of A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public After the Revolution

Women in the American Revolution brings to the fore all that we have learned in the decades since the publication of the foundational essays of Linda Kerber and Jan Lewis. Bracketed by prominent historians Rosemarie Zagarri and Sheila Skemp, the essays offer diverse and compelling stories of midwives, plantation mistresses, Loyalists, Native Americans, entrepreneurs, poets, and enslaved African Americans.

Mary Kelley, University of Michigan, coeditor of An Extensive Republic: Print, Culture, and Society in the New Nation, 1790-1840, Volume 2, A History of the Book in America

(Starred review) Since the chapters encompass perspectives from patriots along with those loyal to the Crown, readers develop a comprehensive look at gender roles and relations during this time, including voices from black women. Oberg’s research shows that many of these women’s stories were buried or untouched until recently.... Scholars or history lovers seeking to understand the American Revolution from a different point of view would benefit from these previously understudied stories.

Library Journal

[T]his collection has enormous potential for use in teaching. The stories told here are new and engaging. They provide models of careful research and reflect a third-wave feminist emphasis on the diversity of women's experiences and identities. The collection would fit wonderfully into a course on the American Revolution, encouraging students to think more sympathetically about how wars affect civilians, and to develop more sophisticated ways of explaining the impacts of gender, class, race, ethnicity, and other factors on people's experiences of major historical events.

Journal of American History

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