Tag Archives: gender

The Civil War

The American Civil War (1861-1865) was a massive, devastating conflict which changed the nation forever.

By the end of the war, slavery in the United States would be destroyed and the power of the federal government over that of the states would be redefined.  The Union (northern) states, with their economic, population, and manufacturing advantages triumphed over the Confederate (southern) states, despite the Confederacy having a distinct advantage in military leadership throughout much of the conflict.
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Women’s Rights: The Seneca Falls Declaration

The Seneca Falls Conference of 1848, held in New York, is often considered the launching point for the women’s movement in the United States. Women–despite legal and economic restrictions and oppression–were a driving force in many of the social reform movements of the time such as the abolition and temperance movements. Their drive for greater political, legal, and economic freedom, including the right to vote has been arduous.
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Anti-British Activism and the Role of Women

While the issues at stake in the years leading up to the American War of Independence largely affected political and economic elites, the broader communities participated in actions designed to bend the British will. One method of protest was to boycott British goods, such as tea. These documents, from 1774 and 1775, illustrate the role of women in carrying out these boycotts.

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New England: Witchcraft?

Although the Salem, Massachusetts witchcraft trials are the most well-known, courts in New England had dealt with the perceived issue of witchcraft for decades. This case, from Connecticut, describes the case of Elizabeth Knap. At the conclusion the author provides his own assessment of the evidence in the case.

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Captivity Narratives: A Window on Native/English Relations

During the late 1600s, there was increasing conflict between the New England colonies and Native American tribes.  Much of this conflict resulted from the New Englanders’ enormous appetite for land and increasing Native desperation to not see their way of life extinguished. The most devastating of these conflicts was Metacom’s War (also known as King Philip’s War).

One example of the evidence we have about life during this time were “captivity narratives.” These were accounts of the kidnapping and eventual ransom of (generally) English women by hostile (to the English) Natives. This excerpt, by Mary Rowlandson of Massachusetts who was a captive during Metacom’s War, is one of the most well-known.

Rowlandson organized her account as a series of “removes”–each discussion one location of her long, mobile captivity.

Note: this is a longer-than-usual excerpt, so allow yourself plenty of time to get through it!
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How Much Affection? Youth, Sex, and Social Norms in Cold War America

During the 1950s, some American thinkers expressed concern that deviation from accepted behavior, would contribute to a weakening of American society. This educational film from 1958 addresses some of the perceived consequences of premarital sex. While premarital sex was certainly not invented in the 1950s, concerns about “proper” behavior were enhanced by the tensions of the Cold War.

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