Gender, Race and Power in Colonial virginia Essay

1. Brown, Kathleen M. “Good Wives, Nasty Wenches and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race and Power in Colonial virginia.” Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Kathleen M. Brown is a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a gender and race historian of early America. In this book she takes a close look at the origins of racism and slavery in colonial Virginia beginning in 1676 to the eighteenth century form the standpoint of gender. She uses race and gender as central modes and tries to understand the social, political and legal institutions of Virginia.

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In the process to understand this, she uses tax rolls, deeds, county court records, government documents, newspapers, wills, and narrated histories of the early settlers. She uses her extensive research to explain how the social categories of race and gender were redefined nonstop by the Virginians so that the heritage of influential Virginia society was supported.

2. Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. “A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Dairy, 1785 -1812.

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1991.

Using the dairies of a midwife in the eighteenth century Maine, Laurel Thacher gives a vivid picture of the typical life in the early New England frontier. Laurel Thather Ulrich is a Harvard University Professor with expertise in the early American history.

The dairy reveals the frequency of violence, crime and premarital sex in eighteen century America. Ulrich starts each chapter with a section from the dairy, then comments on what Martha is saying while connecting the information and themes throughout the years of the dairy. Ulrich describes the status of women in the society socially, and economically, while relating the history of medicine and day to day lives of people at that time. She supports the passages in the dairy from other sources as well. The book may not suit all readers as the dairy, written in old English with no proper punctuation makes for difficult reading.

3. Norton, Mary Beth. In the Devil’s Snare: the Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2003.

Mary Beth Norton gives a detailed account of the events at Salem, and tries to let us see these events as they were seen by the people who lived through the nightmare.  She attempts to explain how a situation which began with a couple of girls developing fits and ended with 144 people being accused of witchcraft, twenty of whom were put to death, got so out of control.  Norton explores what role gossip played and moves beyond the limited location of Salem to show what effect the Indian wars, which had been going on for the previous twenty five years, had on the mindset of the people.  The people at the time were certain that they were in the devil’s noose.  She firmly believes that the final responsibility for letting the situation get so out of control rests with the governor of the colony, council and the judges.

Mary Beth Norton is actually Mary Donlon Alger, an American History professor at Cornell University. She has authored several books with one being a finalist of Pulitzer Prize.

4. Gutierrez, Ramon A.When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846. Stanford University Press. 1991.

Ramon A Gutierrez is a Professor of History and Ethnic Studies at Univeristy of California. In his book he explores the influence of the Spanish conquest of New Mexico on the Pueblo Indians. Gutierrez says that inequality exists in every society, and in this book he tries to show the forms during a period when change was taking place rapidly. The main theme shows how marriage structures inequality in the various layers of society.

He uses historical records, folklore, academic texts, songs and publications of the clergy that deal with marriage, trade, gender and religion and puts together a detailed analysis written from the Pueblo Indians point of view. It gives accounts of how the Franciscan ministry first took over the indigenous people by manipulation of their own beliefs and describes the challenges that the friars and pueblos faced when the Spanish conquerors and government forced their supremacy over the area and the local population.

5. Karlsen, Carol A. The Devil in the Shape of aWomen: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. W.W. Norton & Company, New York 1998

Carol F. Karlsen has a Ph.D from Yale with study in the fields of American women, early American society and culture. She is currently a Professor of History at University of Michigan. Karlsen studied the witchcraft cases in New England from 1620 – 1725 and found that women were significantly more likely to be accused of witchcraft as compared to men.  She found that women who were accused were generally those who had no brothers or sons and stood to inherit an estate directly. Out of the 267 women who were accused of being witches, 64% came from families without male heirs and a majority of these women were found guilty and executed.

This is not merely a book about witches but and in depth study of gender relations that existed in the society at that time. Karlsen agrees with the idea that in a Puritian society women were seen as evil or witches because they were considered a threat to the order of society.

 6. Brown, Kathleen M., Changes into the Fashion of Man the Politics of Sexual Difference in a Seventeenth Century Anglo American Settlement. Journal of the History of Sexuality VI 1995 pg 171-193

Kathleen Brown is an early America historian race and gender historian. She is a fellow at the William and Mary Omohundro Institute for Early American Studies.  Her research concentrates on the barter of goods, materials and notions of health and sexuality and the body in the early Atlantic. She is the author of the book annotated above and has written numerous articles and essays including this one.

In this article she uses the 1629 case of Thomas Hall, a servant whose gender identity was the cause of controversy in Warrosquyoacke, Virginia, to show how an early modern community responded to gender indiscretion. In the process she lays bare the popular beliefs of sexual differences of people with varied shares in the social order.

7. Katz, Jonathan N., Gay and Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary. New York 1983 pg 71-72

Jonathan Ned Katz is a historian of human sexuality whose studies focus on same-sex attractions and how the social organization of sexuality has changed over time. Katz was an adjunct teacher at Yale University and even got the Yale University’s Brudner Prize, which recognizes his scholarly contributions in the lesbian and gay field of studies.

His book is essentially a collection of numerous resources that covers two formative periods in the U.S. history, the first period is from 1607 – 1740 and the second section covers the more modern 1880 -1950. The book contains documents of personal testimony, news reports, diaries, medical records, laws, songs, book reviews, cartoons, and movies. It is essentially the history of gays and lesbians told through these documents.

8. Thompson, Roger. A History towards Homosexuality in the Seventeenth Century New England Colonies, Journal of American Studies, XXIII 1989 pg 27-40.

Roger recounts of a play at his all boys school in mid-1940, when in place of a girl a boy was used as Helen of Troy, and was kissed by another boy. All sorts of indecent remarks came flying out of the gallery causing quiet a commotion. He uses the incident to point out that although it may not appear as such, but people were more insecure regarding homosexuality than they let on.

Roger Thompson was a Professor of American History at University of East Anglia, Norwich England and an author of articles.

9. Hale, John. A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft. Boston 1702 pg 132.
John Hale was a pastor involved in prosecuting people for witchcraft until his own wife stood accused, and his attitude changed dramatically. Shortly after her acquittal, Sarah Hale passed away and the pastor John Hale wrote a short book that was very critical of the trials. Through his book the pastor tries to make amends for what he saw as an error made by him and he wanted to tell others what he had learned. He owned his mistakes and used the book to repent.

Written in Old English the book is a bit difficult to read, it gives a firsthand account of the way those accused of the crime were convicted and how they were discovered. It discusses the positive and negative aspects of the trials keeping in view the Reverend’s personal experience and scripture.  The Reverend theorizes that Satan manipulated things to cause trouble and it was not the witches.

10. Taylor, Rattray G., Sex in History: The Story of Society’s Changing Attitudes to Sex throughout the Ages. New York 1970 pg 38-41 and 144-115.

A very thoroughly researched book based on 260 sources that discusses human sexuality through the ages and the turn that attitudes of people have taken. The author talks about human sexuality in Europe beginning in the Middle ages to 1950 very openly.  He claims that monogamy was not the norm in Europe originally and that the Church came up with the idea. He covers the full range of human sexual history beginning with the Greek practices of “boy love” and the Victoria “cult of the little girl” all the way to international child prostitution of modern times. He lays bare many of the social religious explanations and Freudian conspiracies.

Rattray studied natural sciences at Cambridge before taking on journalism. Later he joined BBC, where he developed scientific programs. In 1966 he became a full-time author.

11. Morgan, Edmund S., The Puritan and Sex in American Family in Social and Historical Perspective, pg 369

The book intended for sociologists and not light reading by any means, is actually a collection of  twenty articles mostly dealing with America but a few related to Europe as well. The work is divided into sections, with the first dealing with the family issues of domestic life. It covers the American Scene and then moves on to the structure of the family in 17th century, middle-class families and Ethnic Variations. The section on childhood and youth covers such topics as adolescence from historical point of view and American children as seen by British travelers. The section on Women Roles covers the Progressive Era, and women leaders. Puritan ideology, sex, illegitimacy and the Sexual Revolution are taken into account in the section on Sex Behavior. Finally the book concludes with trends in marriage, birth and death in the demographic section.

12. Godbeer, Richard, Chaste and Unchaste Covenants: Witchcraft and Sex in Early Modern Culture in Wonders of the Invisible World:1600-1900. Peter Benes Boston 1995 pg 53-72.

pg 53-72.

Richard Godbeer  is a specialist in colonial America with focus on religious culture, gender studies and history of sexuality. He moved to the History Department of the University of Miami after teaching for fifteen years at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of several books and essays.

In this piece Richard Godbeer puts forth a well researched document conveying the how elite of society manipulated the lower classes for their own lustful desires while maintaining their positions. It goes on to discuss gender relations in association with witchcraft.

13.  Hoffer, Peter Charles. The Salem Witchcraft Trials: A Legal History. Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1997.

Peter Hoffer has written a to the point history which examines the accusations, investigation by the grand jury, and the manner of the trials. He covers how the rights of individuals, such as right to legal counsel and how evidence is presented, were ignored. In this book he discloses how religious beliefs, superstitions, disputes, and Anglo-American custom led to accusations of individuals being described as witches. He goes further and relates how the false witch accusations relate to current cases where children lay the blame on adults for abuse.

the book is presented in an easy to read format and is especially written for students and the general public. The author is a Ph.D. form Harvard University who is an early American history and legal history professor at University of Georgia.

14. Jackson, Shirley. The Witchcraft of Salem village. New York: Random House Books, 1987.

Shirley Jackson has written about a group of nine girls from a small town of Salem, Massachusetts, who listened to a West Indian lady tell stories of magic, superstition and witchcraft which were prohibited. Soon thereafter the girls start behaving strangely, and when questioned the claim that witches are responsible. The girls accused many of the townspeople of being witches. The false accusations led to trials and executions. Jackson lays the groundwork of the story first by describing the political standing of the people and the religious atmosphere before going on to the story. She uses court summaries and sticks to the historical facts while relaying the details of the story. The book is written for young audience with fairly simple language and straight forward reading.
15. Nissenbaum, Stephen & Boyer, Paul S. Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft. New York: Harvard University Press, 1974.

The authors claim that the trials were and indication of the social tensions in the small towns and the residents were playing roles that were based on economic, geographic and social standing. Their arguments are based on unpublished sources, and they claim that previous historians were incorrect in separating these events from the long term development of the towns. They give a detailed account of factionalism in 17th century New England using family, spatial relationships and economic situation at the time. They claim that the people of Salem, in the presence of change and anxiety fell victom to nonrational behaviors.

Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum are both Ph.D doctors with interest in U.S. culture and intellectual historians.

16. Hill, Frances. The Salem Witch Trials Reader. Da Capo Press, 2000.

Starting with witchcraft texts in the 15th century Hill gives a historical sense of the Puritan settlement caught in the mist of Indian raids and fear. The first part of the witch hunt is told through writings of Robert Calef, Reverend George Burroughs (who himself was hanged for being a witch) and Reverend Samuel Parris. The last part of the book uses excerpts from historians that show the witch trials as anything from work of the devil to Puritan excesses, to social rivalry, all theories are covered. Based on firsthand credentials, Hill uses the historical backdrop to show how the trials have been symbolized and at times misrepresented by historians.

Frances Hill is a journalist and novelist and has targeted the senior high school students and adults with this work. The book is written in simple straight forward language.

17. Marc, Author. Witch-hunt: mysteries of the Salem witch trials. Atheneum Books, 2003.

Marc Aronson is an acclaimed historian who separates the facts, myths and misinterpretations dealing with the Salem witch trials. She gives a clear account of the trials and leaves it to the reader to judge for themselves. Since the book is written as a narrative, all evidence of research is found at the back of the book in the notes section. The author  is critical of historians misrepresenting the trials. The book is aimed at the younger readers, thus the language is not complicated.

The writer encourages the reader to rethink the notions of circumstances leading to accusations and hearings. He clearifys tituba’s ethnicitly and discusses the social standings and compulsions of those who were making the accusations.

author actively encourages the rethinking of past notions of the events leading up to the accusations and hearings. He sets straight the issue of Tituba’s ethnicity, the motives and means of Cotton Mather and his colleagues, and the societal contexts and compulsions of the accusers.

 

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