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A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony
The year 2000 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of A Little Commonwealth by Bancroft Prize-winning scholar John Demos. This groundbreaking study examines the family in the context of the colony founded by the Pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower. Basing his work on physical artifacts, wills, estate inventories, and a variety of legal and official ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 9th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published January 1st 1970)
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An absolutely fascinating attempt to elucidate the social structures within the family, and the experiences of family members, during the first seventy years of Plymouth Colony. The evidence is scanty, and consists mostly of such documents as wills and deeds and records of court cases; personal letters and journals are almost absent. Demos is very honest about what he doesn't know and scrupulous about attempting to find evidence for every one of his hypotheses, pointing out just what is ...more
3.5 stars. A solid overview of family life and structure in colonial Plymouth. Demos being Demos wasn't afraid to take some whimsical moments, and I doubt very much that some of his psychobabble musings remain relevant 45 years later. Perhaps a better overview would be to read the some sections from Fischer's Albion's Seed, which draws heavily from this work. In comparing those two works however, Demos was more careful than Fischer when examining the material culture and architectural elements ...more
This was a short history on the dynamics and roles of family members in early colonial days. The book is simply and clearly written and the author often includes (sometimes copious) remarks on where he hypothesized about the historical facts or psychology of the time. Interesting but not wildly so. I do feel that I learned some new tidbits.
This book had tons of information on Plymouth Colony. There were lots of guesses/conjectures but that is necessary when there are not many artifacts surviving. Even though I am interested in Plymouth, this book was a bit boring for me. I think I would rather read a historical fiction book on the subject. One that is based on fact, it is original in its storyline.