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Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  14 reviews
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 enactm ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 9th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 1970)
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May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 speculat ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting perspective and exploration of the Plymouth colony. This book was a different perspective than the typical one that focuses on the key players of the colony. I especially liked the chapter on clothes!
Andrew Pemberton
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent social approach to understanding the commonly overlooked aspects of familial life in Plymouth Colony.
May 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comps
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 i ...more
Donna Peake
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-completed
This is the book to read if you want to know about the life of a Pilgrim, what they wore, what they ate, how they worshipped, wills, day to day life. This book brought them to life.
Also the name Mathews & Peakes are mentioned in this book. Made it more personal for me.
Aug 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
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.
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 07, 2013 added it
A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony, telling the structure of households in which there is an article about the relationship of husband and wife and parent relationships with children.
Aug 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic
In depth study of of the ordinary life of a Puritan community, by one of the giants in this area of American history.
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Lots of examples from wills and other documentation.
Anne Powell
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Slightly tedious in places, but still an interesting topic.
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