Land of the Brave

Colonial Women

Colonial America - Land of the Brave

Colonial Women
The roles of Colonial Women were determined by their wealth, religion and status. Their lives and their roles are therefore described as follows:

  • Puritan Women
  • Wealthy European Colonial Women
  • Unmarried women and widows
  • Colonial Indentured Servants
  • Native Indian Women
  • Colonial Slave Women

Colonial Women
Life in early Colonial America was extremely hard. The early women colonists and settlers were expected to help the men in a variety of hard labor tasks in order to survive. As time passed the lives of Colonial women took on the traditional roles of women which related to running the house or farm and raising the children. The work undertaken within these roles were dependent on wealth and status. The men dominated the lives of Colonial women. Colonial women would be married by the time they were twenty and bore large numbers of children - 8 children was normal but as the child mortality rate was extremely high up to 5 of the children would have died before they reached their teens.

Colonial Women
The men held traditional views and attitudes about the status and roles of women women. However, women were in short supply in the colonies so they tended to be more highly valued than the women in Europe were still viewed as the weaker sex, lacking the physical and mental strength of men and were emotionally less stable. Colonial Women were expected to give total respect to the men and to obey them without question.

Home Life of Colonial Women
The life of women was focussed on the home. The homes of Colonial women were invariably drafty, badly heated, had no running water, no bathrooms or indoor toilets. Lighting was dim and provided by candles and whale-oil lamps. Travel was difficult as there initially were no roads. Towns were generally dirty without garbage collection and proper sewers. This led to various diseases with few doctors and limited medical knowledge to heal the sick.

The Tasks of Colonial Women
The tasks, chores and roles of Colonial women included:

  • Cooking: Usually over over a fire or in brick ovens -  Refer to Colonial Food
  • Heating: Preparing the fires
  • Lighting: Making candles
  • Housework: Making soap. Cleaning was never ending with dust everywhere form the open fires
  • Emptying chamber pots
  • Clothes: Spinning, weaving, knitting and making clothes
  • Laundry: Washing and ironing clothes
  • Tending the sick: Including collecting herbs and making remedies
  • Childcare
  • Caring for Livestock: Farm or plantation life required Colonial women to feed the animals, milk the cows, gather eggs etc

The work and tasks undertaken would vary according to the status of the woman.

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Updated 2018-01-01

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