The Biography of a Nineteenth-Century Vermont Family
Roxana's Children is a well-researched and well written biography of Roxana Brown Walbridge Watts (1802-62) and her descendants. The book is constructed from the descendants' 300 preserved letters, 30 diaries, and photographs from the family's village life during 19th-century Vermont. Bonfield and Morrison use these sources to discuss social change and movement in American life.
"Although centered around the lives of Roxana Brown Walbridge Watts (1802-62) and her descendants, this thoroughly researched, well written biography of a farm family is as much a social history of village life in 19th-century Vermont, specifically, the town of Peacham. . . . Throughout her life, Roxana Walbridge Watts remained the central figure of this scattered clan. She had insisted that all her children--girls as well as boys--receive a formal education. It was this shared literacy that held the family together. Its engaging personal histories have been drawn from c. 300 letters and 30 diaries preserved among its descendants. Bonfield and Morrison use these sources to discuss social change and movement in American life generally. Among other topics, the authors consider the westward migration, increasing rate of divorce, movement from rural agricultural labor to urban industrial work, and the opportunities open to versus the expectations of women during this period. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice
"We can thank archivist Lynn A. Bonfield and writer Mary C. Morrison, Roxana's great-granddaughter, for their painstaking labor in reconstructing this nineteenth-century family saga. Out of the scattered letters and diaries of one family, they have framed a story illustrating the tension between the desire to capture opportunities elsewhere and the pull of a mythical 'home' that bedeviled the psyche of rural New Englanders for much of the nineteenth century. The story . . . achieves the riches and depth of both a unique family portrait and a revealing social history."—New England Quarterly