What was the role of women in massachusetts bay colony?
Ive looked it up online and in my textbook but cant find anything! i have a general idea, but i want to be sure, please help! were they in charge of cooking, cleaning, children, like, basic household needs?..they didnt have a right to vote i dont think...please help!
Asked By: raaachh - 10/1/2009
Women would have been in charge of household needs, but those involved far more than cooking and cleaning in colonial times.
One of the most important tasks performed by a woman was spinning. The early colonies were desperately short of cloth, and women wouild have spent a lot of time spinning flax or wool into thread when they weren't doing anything else. Flax was spun on a wheel sittiing down, but wool was spun on a bigger wheel, standing up. A woman moved backwards and forwards while she was spinning the wool, and in a full day's spinning a woman might walk 20 miles.
Women were generally in charge of the poultry and the dairy, and would milk the cows and take care of the chickens and geese, collect the eggs etc.
They had many seasonall tasks. In the autumn, they made apple butter and cider. When the pigs were butchered, they made sausages. They collected the fat to mix with lye for soap making - a long and arduous process. In the cold weather, they made candles and brewed beer (most people drank beer instead of water, so a hosuehold would need a lot of it). In the spring, they planted theri kitchen gardens, growing a wide variety of vegetables and herbs, both for cooking and medicinal purposes (housewives were expected to have a good knowledge of medicine and first aid). In early summer, they began making cheese. A housewife who could make good clean butter and cheese was a real boon to her family, creating a product that was not only valuable at home but in the marketplace.
Obviously not all women were albe ot do all the housewifely tasks well. Someone who was good at cheese making might trade her wheels of cheese for cloth or meat or candles. A midwife or dressmaker might be paid ofr her services with a brace of geese or a tub of sweet butter. Martha Ballard, who worked as a midwife in the late eighteenth century, was still collecting payment for her services in coffee, candles, unwashed wool, and even shingles.
Colonial women reached the height of their powers in middle age, when they were no longer burdened by continual pregnancy and had daughters old enough to help with the domestic tasks.
although a prosperous matron had no voice in the public arena, she was expected to take a leading role in the parallel world of women. Older women were the advisers, counselors, and judges of the younger.
A competent housewife also earned the respect of her husband, who could see firsthand the value of her labours. The farmer who slaughtered a pig needed his wife to make the sausages, process the bacon, and preserve the pork. As he sat by the fireside at night, mending his fishing net or fixing his tools, he coudl watc her turning the flax that he had harvested and the wool he had sheared into the family's clothes. The candles that lit their way to bed came from her hand, as did the vegetables, eggs, cheese, and chickens they ate and the beer or cider they drank. They were very much partners in the family business,, andif the man was at all sensible he understood how critical his wife was to their mutual success.
single women and widows had the legal ability to conduct business, and by 1687, more than 10 percent of the people involved in trade in Boston were female - most of them widows. a superachieving spinster named elizabeth Poole, who purchased land in Plymouth Colony fromthe Indians in 1637, founded the settlement of Taunton, and became a major stockholder in the ironworks that were established there after iron was discovered onthe banks of the local river.
Many businesses that were theoretically operated by men were actually conducted by their wives while the men were at sea, or travelling, or engaged in some other commercial pursuit. These wives were accepted as merchants, farmers, printers, or store managers, as long as they didn't take the title. A few jobs, like tavern or innkeeping, were seen as a natural extension of a housewife's hospitality. Midwives were, of course, universally women. Midwives were a critical resource in colonial communities - the normally apolitical matrons of Boston went on a virtual strike when their favourite midwife came under attack by the church elders.
Answered By: Louise C - 10/1/2009