Friday, June 24, 2005

Women and Work in Colonial New England

Recommended Fiction

The Anchor: P. Moore, Proprietor, by Bonnie Bunn Wyche (Banks Channel Books, 2003)
Polly Moore is wise beyond her years when, in 1764 North Carolina, she runs her father's tavern, cares for the family, develops strong political opinions, and witnesses a pre-Revolution rebellion.

School Library Journal Review:
Gr 6-10–This historical novel is overflowing with the harsh realities of the daily life of a family during the pre-Revolutionary War in the North Carolina colony. Polly Moore's father puts her in a precarious position. His gambling and ill management of their tavern, the Anchor, drags his family into incredible debt. Only when the proprietorship papers are signed over to 15-year-old Polly do things begin to change. Struggling against the disdain of women in business, public scorn of her kindness toward slaves, the Stamp Act, and Parliament's taxation, the teen acts heroically to save her family and all that she has inherited. Filled with rich historical detail, the story stars a heroine who shines like a beacon in a man's world.–Kimberly Monaghan, formerly at Vernon Area Public Library, IL (Reviewed May 1, 2004) (School Library Journal, vol 50, issue 5, p159)

Ann's Story, 1747, by Joan Lowery Nixon (from the Young Americans: Colonial Williamsburg series, Delacorte, 2000)
Ann, a young girl in eighteenth-century Williamsburg, wants to become a doctor like her father, but she is not allowed even to study Latin or mathematics.(Lexile - 670)

To learn more about the author, visit Author Profile: Joan Lowery Nixon

The Fifth of March: a Story of the Boston Massacre, by Ann Rinaldi (Harcourt Brace, 1993)
Fourteen-year-old Rachel Marsh, an indentured servant in the Boston household of John and Abigail Adams, is caught up in the colonists' unrest that eventually escalates into the massacre of March 5, 1770.

Booklist Review:
Books for Youth, Older Readers: /*STARRED REVIEW*/ Gr. 7-12. Rinaldi's latest historical novel, which takes place in 1770, is told from the point of view of 14-year-old Rachel Marsh, an indentured servant in the household of John Adams. Rachel feels lucky to have the position, believes she is well treated, and greatly admires Abigail and John Adams. Although not political herself, she worries about friends who support rebellion and have told her that a time will come when she will have to take a stand. It is only when she meets Matthew Kilroy, a young, argumentative British soldier who has been sent to Boston as part of a peacekeeping force, that Rachel begins to question British domination of the colonies and to see herself as an American. When Matthew is arrested for his part in the Boston Massacre, Rachel, who's convinced he's caught up in a political war not of his making, defies convention and the Adamses' wishes and visits him in jail. Although the act costs her her job, she knows she has done the right thing. Rinaldi provides a vivid picture of colonial life and the pre-Revolutionary War period, including the disagreements among various American factions and the frightening actions of mobs and British retaliation. Because the issues she raises--the role of peacekeeping forces, the use of violence to achieve political goals, and the courage required to take a stand--are as significant today as they were at the time, this will be a wonderful selection to use in language-arts and social-studies classes. ((Reviewed Jan. 15, 1994)) -- Chris Sherman (Lexile - 600)

Maria's Story, 1773, by Joan Lowery Nixon (from the Young Americans: Colonial Williamsburg series, Delacorte, 2001)
In Williamsburg, Virginia, two years before the start of the American Revolution, nine-year-old Maria worries that her mother will lose her contract to publish official reports and announcements of the British government because she prints anti-British articles in their family-run newspaper.

School Library Journal review:
Gr 3-6-A story based on the life of Maria Rind, who lived in Williamsburg during the 1770s. On the eve of the War for Independence, the child is mourning the death of her father, official printer to the House of Burgesses. Of necessity, her mother takes over the printing business, and the nine-year-old must take over the household tasks and the care of her three younger brothers. She is frustrated and jealous when her older and somewhat lazy brother becomes an apprentice to their mother, but her poor reading and writing skills, as well as her gender, prevent her from being elevated to more important work. During the months before the official printer is to be named, their mother holds the business together and even dares to print news of Colonial dissent. With the help of Thomas Jefferson and other men of power, she is awarded the position. The plot moves swiftly, and the characters are well developed. The story is much more realistic and personal than books in the "Dear America" series (Scholastic) since it is based on an actual person. A prologue in which modern-day children are visiting Colonial Williamsburg helps to set the scene. A concluding author's note briefly reviews Maria Rind's life, followed by information about Williamsburg, printing in the 18th century, and childhood during Colonial times. For young readers who enjoy historical fiction, this is an excellent choice as it offers information and insight and focuses on a memorable character.-Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

To learn more about the author, visit Author Profile: Joan Lowery Nixon

Molly Bannaky, by Alice McGill, pictures by Chris K. Soentpiet (Houghton Mifflin, 1999)
Relates how Benjamin Banneker's grandmother journeyed from England to Maryland in the late seventeenth century, worked as an indentured servant, began a farm of her own, and married a freed slave.

Booklist Review:
Books for Youth, For the Young: Ages 4-9. Her grandson was Benjamin Banneker, the famous self-taught African American astronomer and mathematician (a biography of Baenneker is also reviewed in this issue); but Molly Bannaky's own life story is just as astonishing. This handsome, large-sized picture book shows her as a woman who was strong enough not only to survive harsh times but also to break new ground. The historical fiction story starts in seventeenth-century Britain, where she is a dairymaid who is saved from the gallows because she can read the Bible. After being extradited to America, she is freed after seven years as an indentured servant. She stakes her claim in the wilderness and buys a slave, Bannaky, to help her. They fall in love, marry (even though it is forbidden by colonial law), build a successful farm, and bear four daughters, one of whom marries an ex-slave and has a son, Benjamin. In the final double-page spread, Molly Bannaky is teaching her grandson to read and write. An afterword fills in the history, but the book's focus is on the big, richly detailed watercolor narrative paintings that combine historical pageantry with close-up portraits of a towering woman and her family. ((Reviewed September 15, 1999)) -- Hazel Rochman

Recommended Nonfiction

The Colonial Mosaic: American Women 1600-1760, by Jane Kamensky (from The Young Oxford History of Women in the United States series, Nancy F. Cott, General Editor, Oxford University Press, 1995)
Of particular interest in this terrific volume (no. 2) are Chapter 2: To Toil the Livelong Day: Working Lives; and Chapter 3: Of Marriage and Motherhood: Family Lives.
Learn about the author at

This outstanding multivolume history of American women, written for young adults, is highly recommended for middle and high school students, and includes the following:
Volume 1: The Tried and the True: Native American Women Confronting Colonization, by John Demos;
Volume 2: The Colonial Mosaic: American Women 1600-1760, by Jane Kamensky;
Volume 3: The Limits of Independence: American Women 1760-1800, by Marylynn Salmon;
Volume 4: Breaking New Ground: American Women 1800-1848, by Michael Goldberg;
Volume 5: An Unfinished Battle: American Women 1848-1865, by Harriet Sigerman;
Volume 6: Laborers for Liberty: American Women 1865-1890, by Harriet Sigerman;
Volume 7: New Paths to Power: American Women 1890-1920, by Karen Manners Smith;
Volume 8: From Ballots to Breadlines: American Women 1920-1940, by Sarah Jane Deutsch;
Volume 9: Pushing the Limits: American Women 1940-1961, by Elaine Tyler May;
Volume 10: The Road to Equality: American Women Since 1962, by William H. Chafe; and
Volume 11: Biographical Supplement and Index, by Harriet Sigerman.