Women of the Commonwealth

Work, Family, and Social Change in Ninteenth-Century Massachusetts


These essays reflect the complexity and richness of current scholarship in women's history. Informed by a variety of source materials and methodologies, the ten chapters break down a generalized construct of "womanhood" to explore the dynamics between gender, race, ethnicity, and class.

The first section of the book focuses on women's work, paid and unpaid, and the effects of class, ethnicity, and gender on the structure of the job market and on power relations within the family. The second section revisits the concept of "sisterhood" by looking at women in relation to their families, social and cultural networks, and civic and private institutions. The editor's introduction sets the essays in the current historiographical context of women's studies and provides a bibliographical essay for the nonspecialist reader.

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