AMH 4561, Spring 2008
Professor Kirsten E. Wood, Ph.D.
History Department (my mailbox is in DM 397)
Office: VH 207, office hours TTh 11:12 and by appointment
firstname.lastname@example.org – email is always the best way to reach me. Please include the class number in
your subject heading
This course provides a survey of early American women's history. We will study some of the
most important events, trends, and concepts in the history of American women from
approximately 1600 through 1865. We will read both primary and secondary sources to
understand both changes over time in women's activities and status and differences between
groups of women, such as slaveowning and enslaved women, wealthy and impoverished urban
women, and Puritans, Quakers, and evangelicals.
By the end of the semester, students will be familiar with important developments in the history
of American women from 1600 through 1865 and with some of the most important
methodological and theoretical perspectives in the field. Students will demonstrate their
knowledge and comprehension through class discussion and papers.
1. Educational Technology. The undergraduate component of this course is managed through
WebCT. Assignments, online readings, announcements, and out-of-class discussions will
involve using WebCT on a regular basis. Students are also required to use additional electronic
resources, including the American Historical Newspapers database. Students must be able to use
computers at FIU or log into the FIU proxy server for library access from another location. All
formal writing will be submitted to Turnitin.com.
2. Academic Misconduct. Read the FIU policy. Read it again. If you have questions, ask me.
Ignorance is no excuse. If you cheat or plagiarize, you should expect unpleasant consequences.
A minor infraction would likely result in receiving a zero on the assignment in question. Gross
academic misconduct will mean failing the class at best, if not academic suspension or worse.
3. Participation. You are expected to attend both the undergraduate class and additional seminar
meetings (to be scheduled). I may ask you to take a particular role in the small group exercises
that I assign to the undergraduates, but it’s very important that we don’t overwhelm the
undergraduates with graduate-level discourse.
4. Reading. I expect you to read the assignments for the undergraduates in addition to
supplementary monographs. Those monographs will be chosen jointly, once I learn a bit about
your interests and past experience in the field. There will be at least 6 monographs in total, and
not more than eight. We will meet as a graduate section to discuss each of the monographs.
5. Writing. You will write a detailed book review for each of the monographs we read,
including those assigned to the undergraduates. You will construct an annotated bibliography on
a theme of your choice within the course framework. For this bibliography, you will need to
familiarize yourself with at least 15 works on your chosen topic and provide a brief (1
paragraph) commentary on each of them. You will also write a final exam that models a possible
comprehensive exam question (same format, time frame, etc).
6. Portfolio. All your writing for the semester -- including print-outs of discussion postings --
must be kept in a three-ring binder and submitted each time you submit a paper, and again when
you take each test and the final exam. You may also submit your class notes and reading notes,
but this is not required. This will allow me to observe your improvement over time. You are
responsible for making sure your portfolio is complete and up to date.
Major Problems in American Women's History
Laurel Ulrich, Good Wives
Clare Lyons, Sex among the Rabble
Anya Jabour, Marriage in the Early Republic
The books will be available in the FIU bookstore but may be available more cheaply through
Readings and Sessions
* = readings online and/or in WebCT. All other readings are in Major Problems or the
monographs. Please note that I will be refining the reading selections as we go, so you will have
to check back regularly for the current reading assignments.
10-Jan Theorizing American Women's History
Kate Haulman, "Defining 'American Women's History'"
Gisela Bock, "Challenging Dichotomies in Women's History"
15-Jan Gender and Race in American History
Antonia I. Castañeda, "Women of Color and the Rewriting of Western History"
Leslie M. Alexander, "Rethinking the Position of Black Women in American
17-Jan Native American Women
Michele Gillespie, "Mary Musgrove and the Sexual Politics of Race and Gender in
Bruce M. White, "Gender Roles in the Ojibwa Fur Trade"
22-Jan Native American Women
1. The French Explorer Samuel de Champlain Describes the Lives of Huron Women
and Men in the Great Lakes Region, 1616
2. Mary Musgrove Assists the Georgians in Dealing with the Choctaws, 1734
3. Mary Musgrove Seeks Aid from Georgia in Return for Past Service and Losses,
4. The Moravian Missionary John Heckewelder Observes Delaware Indian Families
in the Mid-18th Century
5. The Captive John Tanner in 1830 Recalls His Foster Mother, Net-no-kwa, an
Ottawa, in the 1790s
24-Jan New England Women
Ulrich, Good Wives
29-Jan New England Women
Ulrich, Good Wives
* Historical American Newspapers: find at least two items that relate to Puritan
women in colonial America. Print them out and bring them to class. Be prepared to
discuss your findings.
31-Jan Witches and Their Accusers in Seventeenth-Century New England
1. Elizabeth Godman Sues Her Neighbors for Accusing Her of Being a Witch, 1653
2. Elizabeth Godman Is Tried for Witchcraft, 1655
3. Bridget Bishop Is Convicted of Witchcraft, 1692
4. The "Casco Girls" (Susannah Sheldon, Mercy Lewis, and Abigail Hobbs) Accuse
George Burroughs, 1692
John Putnam Demos, "The Characteristics of Accused Witches"
Mary Beth Norton, "The Accusers of George Burroughs"
5-Feb The Economic Roles of Free Women
Karin Wulf, "Women's Work in Colonial Philadelphia"
1. Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker, a Wealthy Philadelphian, Describes Her Work and
That of Other Women, 1758-1794
Paper 1 due in class in hardcopy, and electronically to Turnitin.com
7-Feb The Economic Roles of Bondwomen and Servants
Carole Shammas, "The Work of Enslaved Women on Virginia Plantations"
2. Landon Carter Complains about his Female Slaves, 1771-1773
3. George Washington Lists His Slaves, 1786
4. George Washington Assigns Work to His Slaves, 1786-1788
* American Historical Newspapers: find at least two items that relate to enslaved
women's economic roles in colonial America. Print them out and bring them to class.
Be prepared to discuss your findings.
12-Feb Women and the Great Awakening
14-Feb Sexuality in Colonial America
Lyons, Sex and the Rabble, part 1 & 2
21-Feb The Impact of the American Revolution
1. Abigail Adams, John Adams, and Mercy Otis Warren Discuss "Remembering the
2. Taylor & Duffin Report Molly Brant's Opinions and Actions, 1778
3. Daniel Claus Assesses Molly Brant's Influence, 1779
4. The Patriot Esther DeBerdt Reed Describes the "Sentiments of an American
5. Thomas Jefferson's Slaves Join the British, 1781
6. Sarah Osborn, a Camp Follower, Recalls the Revolution, 1837
Mary Beth Norton, "The Positive Impact of the American Revolution on White
Jacqueline Jones, "The Mixed Legacy of the American Revolution for Black Women"
James Taylor Carson, "Molly Brant's War"
26-Feb Sexuality in the New Republic
Lyons, Sex and the Rabble, part 3
* American Historical Newspapers: find at least two items that relate to issues of
sexuality in the 18th-century Mid-Atlantic colonies. Print them out and bring them to
class. Be prepared to discuss your findings.
28-Feb Women and Wage Work
*Boydston, Home and Work excerpt or TBA
* Mill Girls
4-Mar Women and Farm Work
Paper 2 due in class in hardcopy and electronically to Turnitin.com
6-Mar Women and Religious Activism
Nancy Isenberg, "Women's Rights and the Politics of Church and State in Antebellum
1. Mrs. Isabella Graham Addresses Members of the Society for the Relief of Poor
Widows with Small Children, April 1800, and Their Daughters (Volunteer Teachers),
11-Mar Women and Reform
Julie Roy Jeffrey, "Ordinary Women in the Antislavery Movement"
Anne M. Boylan, "Women's Organizations in New York and Boston"
2. The Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women Meets in New York City, May
3. The American Female Moral Reform Society Warns Mothers About the "Solitary
4. The Seneca Falls Convention Issues a "Declaration of Sentiments," 1848
5. Elizabeth McClintock and Elizabeth Cady Stanton Defend the Seneca Falls
Women's Rights Convention, 1848
6. Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book, Praises Women's Indirect
Political Influence, 1852
24-Mar White Women in the South
Jabour, Marriage in the Early Republic
27-Mar Enslaved Women's Double Shift
1-Apr The Sexuality and Sexualization of Enslaved Women
4. Rose Williams Recalls Her Forced Marriage in the 1850s to Rufus, Another Slave,
5. Mrs Virginia Hayes Shepherd Reminisces About Her Enslaved Mother and Diana,
an Enslaved Neighbor, 1937
Thelma Jennings, The Sexual Exploitation of African American Slave Women
* Camp, Closer to Freedom (excerpt)
Paper 3 due in class in hardcopy and electronically to Turnitin.com
3-Apr African American Women in Freedom
1. Lucinda, a Free Woman, Asks to be Reenslaved, 1813
2. "A Colored Woman" from Connecticut Implores Other Free Black Women to Sign
Antislavery Petitions, 1839
3. Mary Still, a Prominent Black Abolitionist, and Other Free Women in Philadelphia
Form the "Female Publication Society" to Promote the Moral Uplift of Free and
Enslaved African Americans, 1861
Shirley J. Yee, "Free Black Women in the Abolitionist Movement"
Loren Schweninger, "Free Women of Color in the South"
8-Apr Westering Women
1. Susan Shelby Magoffin Describes Her First Days in Santa Fe, 1846
2. A Citizen Protests the Rape of Indian Women in California, 1862
3. Bills of Sale of Chinese Prostitutes, 1875-1876
Judy Yung, "Chinese Women in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco"
Deena J. González, "The Life and Legend of Gertrudis Barceló in Ninteenth-Century
10-Apr Civil War in the South
1. Ada Bacot, a Confederate Nurse, Comments on Two Wounded Yankees, 1862
2. Maria Daly, a New Yorker, Criticizes Southern Women and Records the War
Work of Her Acquaintances, 1862
3. The Louisianian Sarah Morgan Proudly Proclaims Herself a Rebel, 1863
4. A Union Nurse, Cornelia Hancock, Describes the Aftermath of the Battle of
5. Caroline Kirkland Offers "A Few Words in Behalf of the Loyal Women of the
United States," 1863
6. Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas Describes Conditions in the Confederacy and
Criticizes Northern Women, 1865
LeeAnn Whites, "Southern White Women and the Burdens of War"
*Clinton and Silber, Divided Houses (excerpt)
15-Apr Civil War in the North
Jeanie Attie, "Northern White Women and the Mobilization for War"
7. Mary Livermore Recalls Northern Women's Response to the Beginning of the Civil
*Clinton and Silber, Divided Houses (excerpt)
17-Apr Closing Arguments: Does Women's History Make Sense?