Guest Post: Professional Motherhood: A New Interpretation of Women in the Early Republic

Directory Title Page 1828Today’s guest post comes from C.C. Borzilleri, who is a 2019 graduate of Georgetown University with a BA in History and Government. A lifelong resident of Litchfield, CT, she wrote her senior thesis on the history of women educated in her hometown. She is now working at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, a privately funded presidential library with offices in Vermont and Washington, DC.<

With this year marking the 40th anniversary of Linda Kerber’s Women of the Republic, popularizing Republican Motherhood as an understanding of women in the Early Republic, I propose a supplementary theory to understand women in this time. Kerber’s Republican Motherhood articulated the accepted role of women: the “steady infusion of virtue into the Republic” by raising children to be responsible citizens.[1] This mindset justified the education of women because they were responsible for the early inspiration of their children to care for the new nation. Kerber emphasized the division of public and private space, with the corresponding distinction of the public for men and the private for women. But her theory does not paint the full picture of activities women carried out. Continue reading

Guest Post: Caylin Carbonell, Does Size Really Matter? Searching for Early American Women in the Archives

Today’s guest post comes from Caylin Carbonell, PhD Candidate at the College of William and Mary. Her research interests include gender, family, and legal history in the colonial British Atlantic. Her dissertation looks at women’s everyday household authority in colonial New England. Prior to her doctoral work, Caylin graduated summa cum laude from Bates College in 2012. Caylin received her Master of Arts degree from the College of William and Mary in 2015. Her master’s thesis, titled “In noe wise cruelly whipped: Indentured Servitude, Household Violence, and the Law in Seventeenth-Century Virginia,” explores how early Virginians narrated their experiences with violence and authority. In a close examination of court records from Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Caylin argued that servant bodies and the sites where servants faced violence served as crucial evidence in determining the legitimacy of violence, as correction or abuse. Follow her on Twitter @caycarbs.

Most historians enter the archive with something they’re hoping to find. For me, that has always been women’s voices. Even as my dissertation project has evolved into a broader study of family, labor, and authority in early New England households, I remain firmly committed to bringing women’s stories front and center. Whenever I enter the archive, I am hopeful, if realistic, about what I might find in my efforts to bring women more squarely into the stories we tell about Vast Early America. Continue reading