University of Massachusetts, Amherst

History 388
MWF 1:25-2:15, 206 Herter
Fall 2003

Laura Lovett
635 Herter Hall
Office Hours:


Course Description: This course broadly outlines the major events and cultural trends for American women from the colonial era to the end of the 19th century.  Topics covered include; European, African, and Native American women's experiences during white colonization and the American Revolution; religion and the witchcraft scare; women's educational, moral reform, suffrage, and abolitionist activism in the mid-to-late 19th century; family structures and gender roles; race relations, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction; and evolving theories of women's sexuality, social value, and citizenship.

Required Texts (available at Food for Thought Bookstore, Amherst or Library Reserves):

Linda Kerber & Sharon De Hart, Women's America: Refocusing the Past, 5th edition [WA]

Kathryn Derounian-Stodola (ed.), Women's Indian Captivity Narratives (excerpts)

Amy Srebnick, The Mysterious Death of  Mary Rogers: Sex and Culture in 19th C. New York

Linda Brent (Harriet Jacobs), Incidents in  the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself

Catherine Kelly, In the New England Fashion: Reshaping Womenıs Lives in the 19th C.

Ellen Carol DuBois, The Elizabeth Cady Stanton- Susan B. Anthony Reader [ECS-SA]

Other articles or readings will be available on E-Reserves or Library Reserves, denoted by an * in the syllabus. You need to have an OIT account to download E-Reserve materials.


Attendance & Participation  (Bring a package of 3x5 Index Cards for class.)         10%

Midterm Exam           25%

Oral Presentation with Paper (3-4 page write-up)            15%

Paper based on Course Reading (4-5 pages)         15%

Final Exam 35%

Presentations:  Working in small groups (3 or 4), you will be asked to research and lead class discussion on an assigned topic.  Topics and presentation dates are noted on the course schedule.  Detailed descriptions of the presentation topics, assignment guidelines, and a sign-up sheet will be distributed in class. Link for the an online version of the Presentation Topics.

Participation:  Since oral presentations will make up a part of the grade, it is important that you attend and participate in class.

We will have a number of options for research outside of class, because of the richness of local resources for our topic. If you cannot, please let me know as soon as possible to set up alternative arrangements.

Short Paper Assignment: When you come to class, I will turn on my fantastic time machine. It will magically send you to one place in the 19th C. You must choose between the Amherst-area & NYC. Using the Kelly & Srebnick books as your guide, compare and contrast the situations in rural Massachusetts and urban NY for women. Think about what you value for your life now (i.e. you do not have to be a 19thC person , you may consider things important like mobility, possibilities for adventure, hygiene).
I know it will be a difficult decision, so you may draw on a few additional sources. You may visit the Dickinson Homestead in Amherst, the Evergreens in Amherst, or the Eastside Tenement Museum (, if you don’t have time to jaunt up to NYC, to help make your decision. Please note that the Tenement Museum depicts conditions about 20 years after Mary Rogers’ time and should not overrule the evidence in her narrative as part of your decision.
Your paper should be 4-5 pages in length, typed, and double-spaced. Please include references and a bibliography of your sources. Your papers will be due on December 12 in class.

Paper Writing Guidelines


Course Participation

When women were first admitted to institutions of higher learning, including the Morrill Act Land Grant institution you are now attending, they were permitted to sit in the rear of some classes to observe only as long as their presence was not "disruptive." Alternatively, some women were permitted to attend single sex academies, like Mt. Holyoke, but even these had to push the "boundaries" of the kinds of materials women were thought capable of study. As we will discover, the female presence in this classroom and curriculum was a hard-fought-for innovation.

I value an active student presence. I have tried to structure the course to allow you to actively engage with the material in this course, and with each other. We will begin each week with a Discussion of historians' interpretations of a given topic.  I would like to use your comments in class, including basic queries or contestations, to frame my own presentation of materials and a consideration of a brief primary document in the middle of the week. (This means you will want to bring the source material to class or a set of notes about it.) We will conclude each week by having class members extend our discussion by presenting additional interpretations or materials in short 10-15 minute segments.

We may need to alter our schedule to accommodate our interests. I will post thechanges in course schedule on the class website.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is a serious violation of expected academic conduct.  Your work must be your own.  If you quote or paraphrase work from someone else, you must give credit and provide a reference for that source.  Links to guidelines on plagiarism, including the official policy on academic honesty, can be found on the following webpage:  The penalty for plagiarism in this class is zero credit for the assignment in question.

Late Assignments

Papers handed in late will be graded down one-third of a letter grade per day late.


If you have a documented disability that may affect your performance in the class, please speak to the instructor as soon as possible so that appropriate arrangements can be made.


I have added materials to the course on E-Reserves. The library will post persistent links (JSTOR, Project MUSE) on the OIT site but the staff has agreed to scan in materials that present problems to off-campus servers as PDF files, or they can be found in the regular Reserves section. You may want to confirm your access to course readings BEFORE the night you need to have it read, to allow staff to make accommodations. If requested, I will also post changes to the syllabus on my door, to assure access.

Schedule (Subject to Change)

Week 1 W 9/3 Introduction  
F 9/5

“Woman as Force”: The History of Women’s History

Read: Kerber, Introduction
Week 2 M 9/8

Gendering Conquest: Women and the Process of Colonization

Discussion: Native American Women, African American Women and the European “eye”: we will discuss images of conquest drawn from readings. Please come prepared with one (written) question for each article.

Read: * Rayna Green, "The Pocahontas Perplex"
Read: * Jennifer Morgan “’Some Could Suckle Over Their Shoulder"’
W 9/10 Women’s Experiences During Colonization Documents: The Law of Domestic Relations, examples (WA, 49-52)
F 9/12 Gender Distinctions in 17th C. America Read: Mary Beth Norton, “Searchers Again Assembled” (WA, 63-72)
Week 3 M 9/15 Class meets a Porter-Phelps Huntington House Read: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “The Ways of Her Household” (WA, 39-49)
Read: Carol Berkin, “African American Women in Colonial Society” (WA, 52-61)
W 9/17 Discussion continues Documents: The Law of Slavery, (WA, 61-62)
F 9/19

Challenging the Political Order: Women’s Networks, Place & Puritan New

Presentation #1: Anne Hutchinson

Week 4 M 9/22

Women and the Social Order: The Salem Witchcraft Trials

Discussion: How many ways can we explain the trials? Make a list.
What is the nature of Karlson’s evidence?

Read: Carol Karlson, “The Devil in the Shape of a Woman” (WA, 76-87)
W 9/24 Witchcraft Trials and the Native American Context Documents: Mary Rowlandson, to the 16th Remove (Text for class: pp.3-34)
F 9/26

Native American Women & Captivity Narratives

Presentations #2 and 2A: Native American Women’s material circumstances

Week 5 M 9/29

Captivity & Cultural Intersections

Discussion: How can we understand Native American and Anglo interactions from the narratives? How is this context different for Spanish-Native American relations in New Mexico? Does Phyllis Wheatley’s experience add another dimension?

Read: Mary Rowlandson (finish narrative)
Hannah Dustan
Jemima Howe
Read: * James Brooks, “This Evil Extends Especially to the Feminine Sex” (1-11)
Read: * Alice Nash, “ None of the Captives Were Abused”
Read: * Phillis Wheatley, “On Being Brought From Africa to America”
W 10/1 The American Revolution & Republican Motherhood Documents: Supporting the Revolution, (WA, 107-111)
Documents: * Abigail Addams’ Letter “On Behalf of the Ladies”
F 10/3 A Midwife’s Tale: Film
Presentation #3: Abortion and Gender Relations in an 18th C. Village
Week 6 M 10/6 Film & Discussion: A Midwife’s Tale Read: Kerber, “The Republican Mother and the Woman Citizen” (WA, 112-120)
Optional: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwife’s Tale, on reserve
W 10/8 Race and Revolution Document: * Maria Stewart
F 10/10 MIDTERM  
Week 7 M 10/13 No Class Read: Catherine Kelly, In the New England Fashion, Ch. 1-5, pp. 1-126
W 10/15

Gender, Culture & Industrialization

Presentation #4 Women’s Work & Industrialization

Documents: Working Conditions in Early Factories (WA, 157-158)
Documents: * Harriet H. Robinson, "The Lowell Mill Girls Go on Strike, 1836”
F 10/17

Gendering Space: The “City” and The “Home”

Presentation #5 Women’s Work & Industrialization

Week 8 M 10/20

From Household Economy to the Cult of Domesticity

Discussion: Representations of class. How does the “mysterious death” of a working girl contribute the erasure of the “work” of housekeeping? What are the consequences of this?

Read: Jeanne Boydston, “The Pastoralization of Housework” (WA, 138-148)
Read: Amy Srebnik, The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers (Ch. 1-3, pp. 3-60)
W 10/22

Print Culture & Material Culture

Discussion: Browse one of the online copies of Godey’s Ladey’s book. What does this text tell you about women’s private lives? How does it compare with the print sources described by Srebnick?

Document: * Godey’s Lady’s Book

Read For Context: Srebnick, Ch. 4, 61-84

F 10/24

Legalizing ‘Separate Spheres’

Presentations #6: “Passionlessness” & Reproduction

Read: Srebnick, Ch. 5 & Ch. 7
Document: Claiming Rights I: Keziah Kendall, (WA, 198-199).
Week 9 M 10/27 Victorian Sexuality & Women’s Social Networks Read: Carroll Smith Rosenberg, “ The Female World of Love & Ritual,” (WA, 168-182)
Read: Suellen Hoy, “Agatha O’Brien and the Sisters of Mercy” (WA, 165-168)
Read: Catherine Kelly, Chapter 7 (188-213)
Read: * Lillian Faderman, “Boston Marriage”
W 10/29 Women’s Activism & Reform Documents: Claiming Rights I: Sarah and Angelina Grimke, “The Connection Between Religious Faith, Abolition and Women’s Rights” (WA, 193-198)
F 10/31 Women’s Education
Presentation #7: Female Networks & Sexuality
Week 10 M 11/3

Seneca Falls

Discussion: What was the vision at Seneca Falls?

Read: Ellen Carol DuBois, “Feminism Before Seneca Falls” (ECS-SA, 1-26)
Read: Gerda Lerner “The Meanings of Seneca Falls, 1848-1998” (WA, 200-207)
Read: Nell Painter, “Sojourner Truth’s “Defense of the Rights of Women” (WA 211-214)
W 11/5 Declarations Documents: Stanton, “Address Delivered at Seneca Falls;” Claiming Rights II: Declaration of Sentiments & Married Women’s Property Act, (WA, 27-35; 207-210)
F 11/7

The Question of Race

Presentation #8 : Women as Consumers and Activists

Week 11 M 11/10

Women & Slavery

Discussion: How can historians understand the experience of women who were enslaved? Bring specific examples from Jacob’s text to class. What’s kinds of evidence does Camp use?

Read: Harriet Jacobs, Ch 1-25
Read: * Stephanie Camp, “The Pleasures of Resistance”
Optional: Sharon Block, “Lines of Color, Sex and Service,” (WA, 128-138)

W 11/12 Harriet Jacob’s Narrative Read: Harriet Jacobs, Ch 26-41
F 11/14

Race and Resistance

Presentation #9: Slave Narratives: Authenticating the Sources

Week 12 M 11/17

White Women & Black Women: The Possibilities of Reconstruction

Discussion: What role does the Cult of Domesticity play in structuring racial relations before and after the Civil War?

Read: Document 6: Stanton, ‘Speech to the Anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society,” 1860, (ECS-SA, 79-86).
Read: Drew Gilpin Faust, “Enemies in Our Households: Confederate Women and Slavery” (WA, 214-226)
Read: Tera W. Hunter, “Reconstruction and the Meanings of Freedom” (WA, 229-240)
W 11/19 Reconstruction & Voting Rights Documents: Reconsidering the Law (WA, 241-246)
F 11/21

“Not for Ourselves Alone” Excerpt

Presentation #10: Reading Little Women

Week 13 M 11/24 Film: Hearts and Hands  
W 11/26 Meet at Historic Deerfield Flynt Center of Early New England Life to tour the exhibit on Quilts.  
F 11/28 Thanksgiving Break -- No Class  
Week 14 M 12/1

Women & the West

Discussion: What are the possibilities for women in the West? What are the economic and political structures which shape these possibilities?

Read: * Sarah Deutsch, “Hispanic Women on the Southwest Frontier”
Read: * Lucie Cheng Hirata, "Chinese Immigrant Women in Nineteenth-Century California”
W 12/3 “Civilizing” Native Americans & Immigrants Document: * The Page Law
Document: * Zitkala-Sa
Document: * Helen Hunt Jackson, A Century of Dishonor, excerpts
F 12/5

Reform and the West

Presentation #11: Witness at Wounded Knee

Week 15 M 12/8 Suffrage, Sex & Race Read: Ellen Carol DuBois, “Anthony and the Consolidation of the Women’s Movement” (ECS-SA, 172-200)
Read: * Kathy Kerns, “Whatever Happened to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Brain?”
Read: Phrenological Reports, (ECS-SA, 269-276)
W 12/10 Looking Back: Looking Forward Document: “The Women’s Centennial Agenda, 1876”(WA, 259-260)
* Zhang Deyi, “Strange Customs”(1868)
* Li Gui, “Glimpses of a Modern Society” (1876)
F 12/12

WHY 1890?

Conclusion and Review

Read: Stanton, “Address to the Founding Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association,” February, 1890 (ECS-SA, 222-228)



This page is maintained by Laura Lovett. Last updated 9/4/03.