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First Generations: Women in Colonial America
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First Generations: Women in Colonial America

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  180 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Carol Berkin's multicultural history reconstructs the lives of American women in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries-women from European, African, and Native backgrounds-and examines their varied roles as wives, mothers, household managers, laborers, rebels, and, ultimately, critical forces in shaping the new nation's culture and history.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 1st 1997 by Hill and Wang (first published 1996)
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Dec 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This book is outstanding! The only thing that kept it from being a 5 star is that I felt the chapter on African American women's experience was too light.

I loved how this book fleshed out my basic understanding of colonial life. Even though some of the information was somewhat shocking (some Indian communities responded to the threat of English rape/sexual relations with the women in their groups by providing designated women to provide for the English male "needs") it never conflicted with con
Susie Meister
Oct 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Berkin provides rich narratives of specific colonial women to describe their varied experiences, and it is within the variation that she believes one can bring these women to life. First Generations approaches the subject of colonial women and their experiences from a feminist perspectives. Much of what we know comes from legal documents and it seems that with marriage (and its significance as a gateway to adulthood), women's rights diminished as they were treated as "children, idiots, and crimi ...more
Sarah Trabert
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a well-written and engaging book that offers a history of colonial women through individual and personal accounts. I would not recommend this book,however, to readers hoping for equal descriptions of Euro-American, Native American, and African American women. Due in part to the available documentation and I think author preference, this book does focus on white women of varying social classes with only two chapters devoted to all the rest of women living in Colonial America. Still a very ...more
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting, clear, and concise. I read it for school, but I didn't mind doing the readings at all. It's more about breadth and not so much on depth, but it does give a really interesting quick look at the different types of women in colonial America and the differences and similarities in their experiences.

I wouldn't necessarily read it for pleasure, but if it is a subject that particularly appeals to you, then I would say go ahead and read it.
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Read for History 556

Berkin's style of honing in on specific women and telling their stories, then zooming out to put them in a broader historical setting was not only informative, but actually INTERESTING- something not always easy to do. She also focused on women in the many diverse environments in early America: not merely the Puritan women of New England. A good read for outside the classroom as well!
ONTD Feminism
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
LJ user munkymp3 says, "This is book on how women were treated in the colonial era, whether Puritan or Native American. It's a great documentation of a string of historical events. A bit dry in writing but it's good if you want to understand how women were respected (and how they weren't) compared to today. It gave me a great understanding of how society has progressed and how they've regressed."
Mar 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This book is a set of individual case studies representing women of different regions. A interesting and quick read. A good overview to women in the mostly early colonial era.
Aug 20, 2010 rated it liked it
You really have to like all things: Social-anthropological to appreciate all the information in this text
Lauren Csaki
Aug 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"Women in Colonial America" is not a topic on which there exists an extensive amount of primary source material. Carol Berkin has nevertheless put together an interesting and enlightening book on what life was like for women in colonial America. What's more (and what was my favorite aspect of the book), she discusses the differences in the lives of women between the different regions of America. A Massachusetts woman did not have the same life experience as a Virginian, and it's these difference ...more
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent book about early colonial women. I now understand the different inheritance issues depending on the colony and the will of the husband. I loved that the author picked out women from different colonial regions to tell their story. I met this author at a conference and wish I had all her books for her to autograph for me. Highly recommend this book.
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've used this several times now in teaching early American women's history. It's a very good synthesis, and Berkin opens each chapter with an individual woman whose life story illuminates the focus of the chapter.
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very readable book that provides interesting information about everyday life in colonial America, much of which I had not read in any other history book. It really helped flesh out my understanding of the challenges faced by the different segments of the population during that era.
Michael Foerster
Jul 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Native American, black, and white women's experiences during Colonial America are often overlooked and erased from history. This book does an excellent job at including these histories.
Dec 04, 2013 rated it liked it
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Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Engaging read that paints a vivid picture of women's lives in Colonial times (especially given the dearth of primary sources.)
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