If you’re a fan of history, especially women’s history, you may shudder to imagine what it would be like to do the work that women were called upon to do during the colonial period. Wealthy or poor, and those in the middle, were required, if not to do the actual physical labor, to supervise, organize, and assist in the operations of businesses, farms, and houses while bearing their children and burying their dead.
Without electricity or running water, rubber gloves or cleaning products, a woman of colonial America would have kept up with the dishwashing, floor cleaning, and laundry, including diapers for one or more children. She would have planned meals without a shopping list, because the pantry would have included salt, grains, and maybe some sugar, and everything else would come from the garden or animals that were butchered on the farm or in the woods. She would have milked cows or goats, killed and dressed chickens, and cooked over an open fire, all the while looking after any number of children.
No wonder her lifespan was so short.
If I my life allowed it, I would do nothing but research about the lives of women in colonial America.
Although the majority of women of that time worked constantly, and most left no record of their feelings and thoughts, those who did have given us a great gift.
I have an opportunity to share a few of the books I’ve read on this topic in Shepherd.com, a website that includes books recommended by various authors and lists described as “The best books about . . . “
My list is called “The best books about everyday life in the Southern colonies.”
The books I chose include journals and letters of individuals who lived in the decades before and following the American Revolution and their everyday life, from the most affluent to the most abjectly disadvantaged. Some we are familiar with. Others are nameless. Between Abigail Adams and Martha Washington there are thousands of unnamed women and men who lived and died while working to build a life in a new country, without conveniences we have been taking for granted for over a century.
These books describe the experiences of just a few.