So often, women of the Revolutionary Era are ghettoized, set apart from the central narrative. Not so with In the Words of Women. In this valuable documentary resource, female experiences and perspectives are contextualized and integrated into the flow of history. Women thus become real players, and as the title suggests, we meet them on their own terms.”
Author of A People’s History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence.
Through fascinating documents, deft notes, and unobtrusive editing, this collection provides a valuable addition to the literature of the American Revolution and American women’s history. In the Words of Women performs the impressive feat of embedding women’s experience in the political and military upheavals of the era without losing sight of the ways in which everyday life—household priorities, illness, travel, marriage, parenthood, and social amusement—did not cease for women or men living in the midst of larger events. Scholars and students will turn to this work to see the late eighteenth century with greater illumination.
The voices of the women of the revolutionary generation have sometimes been lost in the rush to provide analysis and narration of their roles. … The story is too often told about the women who protested, boycotted, fought, nursed, spied, and took over the task of running farm and shop, but the voices we hear do not come from the women themselves. The challenge is to bring those voices to the written page, to make us as familiar with the cadences of the housewife and the camp follower as we are with the tempo of Patrick Henry’s oratory. … This is the challenge that the editors of In the Words of Women have met. This collection … offers us … a richer, or complex history of the era of American independence.
You can read more excerpts of reviews on Amazon here.
In the Words of Women offers us the voices of women in the Revolutionary era, as expressed in their letters to each other, and to the men in their lives. They are old and young, black and white, revolutionaries and those loyal to the British. The book is meticulously researched, with a daunting bibliography. The authors have chosen vibrant, often impassioned narratives by women living and writing in the years leading up to, during and after the Revolutionary War. Some of them, such as Abigail Adams and Phyllis Wheatley, may be known to the reader, but most are not. Isa North, Janet Wedge, and Landa Freeman have offered a gem of a book to those of us hungry for personal accounts of the lives of women during the early years of our nation. Click to read the whole review.
You buy this, you buy a time capsule to 18th century America. … It is suspenseful, terrifying, funny, quaint, unjust, sad, charming, domestic, heartbreaking, back-
breaking, dreary, cruel, cold, wet, endearing, exasperating, scary, tender, and human, human, human. It is us. And we can go there now with this book of actual letters of women who lived through it all. …
There should be a law starting today—the American revolution cannot be taught without starting with In the Words of Women. From school children to graduate students to new citizens the message should be: this is where it began. Experience it and feel it.
This is a moment-by-moment account through the letters of women whose husbands were fighting or legislating, or simply gone—letters that may or may not have reached those they were meant for, letters that have survived by accident, or that were kindly preserved by descendants who sensed somehow that we needed to hear from and connect to these wonderful and sometimes not wonderful women of our country from 1765 to 1799. In the end I felt that these letters were written to me. … Click to read the whole review.
Read about us in Women’s Voices Expand Early American History, a PDF of an article by Brian J. Howard that appeared in The Journal News (Mount Kisco, New York), Oct. 24, 2011.
We are pleased that In the Words of Women has been reviewed in Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies in its forth-coming Winter issue (2012-2013). The reviewer, Cassandra Good, assistant editor, Papers of James Monroe, University of Mary Washington, noting the “vivid narrative of women’s lives in the revolutionary era,” finds the book “unusually readable and fast-paced.” Good gives an excellent overview of the contents of the book and, although she would have liked more analytical historiography of women’s roles at this time, she concludes that it is “a pleasure to read history through the individual women the editors have chosen.”
[With thanks to the Editor of the Journal for permission to quote from the review.]