Women's Roles In Colonial America

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Prior to the 1970s, the field of history relied on women’s history to examine the lives of women and the roles and influence they had on society as individuals and as groups. During the 1960s, it was critical for historians to understand the ways in which women were included as well as excluded from political changes and social transformations. At this time, on the campuses of colleges and universities across the nation, there was a rallying cry to incorporate Women’s Studies courses in the curriculum as well as establishing departments devoted to these courses. The first accredited Women’s Studies course was offered at the University of Kansas in 1960. The first Women’s Studies Programs were created in 1970 at San Diego State College and the …show more content…
The first women in colonial Virginia were Indian. As time passed, the colony began to see a gradual presence of European and African women. In the colony, women whether they were planter’s wives, indentured servants, or enslaved, worked in the tobacco fields side by side, whereas unmarried women who owned land could conduct business in similar ways men did. As the colony expanded so did colonists ideas of establishing it as a patriarchal system modeled after the system they were accustomed to in England, one in which men were authorities over their wives, children, and whom ever may have depended on them. The notion of developing this type of system was challenged by uneven sex ratios, high mortality rate, and the frequency in which people remarried occurred; the system was quite difficult, if not entirely impossible. By the mid-seventeenth century, lawmakers in the colony began to reveal their thoughts about race and gender where the roles of women were clearly outlined. A good wife in the colony was white, free, and performed domestic labor in her home while raising her children. Women not fitting the description of a good wife were those who were black, unmarried, held no domestic skills, indentured servants, and enslaved. These women were also referred to as nasty