What was everyday life like for average men and women in early America?
Listeners ask this question more than any other question and today we continue to try to answer it.
Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, author of One Colonial Woman's World: The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit, joins us to explore the life of an average woman who lived in early New England.
This episode originally posted as Episode 032.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Michelle Marchettie Coughlin, a historian of early American women’s history and author of One Woman’s Colonial World: The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit, joins us to explore the life of an average woman who lived in early New England. Keep an eye out for her new book: Penelope Winslow, Plymouth Colony First Lady: Re-Imagining a Life
In today’s episode, Michelle reveals who Mehetabel Chandler Coit was and why her diary is so special; What the diary or life record of Mehetabel Chandler Coit reveals about the lives and interests of colonial American women; And, the types of daily chores early New England women performed around their households.
What You’ll Discover
- How Michelle became interested in 17th-century and early 18th-century women’s history
- How Michelle found Mehetabel Chandler Coit’s diary
- Why Early American learned to read, but not necessarily to write
- How Michelle used genealogy to track down Mehetabel’s diary
- What Mehetabel’s diary looks like
- Difference between diaries and life records
- Puritan views on and practices for keeping diaries
- Who Mehetabel Chandler Coit was and what her life was like
- Economic exchanges that Mehetabel engaged in as an adult woman
- The range of writings contained in Mehetabel’s diary
- How the diary reflects Mehetabel’s interest in colonial and imperial politics
- Why early Americans like the Coits moved from a settled area like Roxbury, Massachusetts to frontier locations like Woodstock, Connecticut
- The economic and political opportunities offered by frontier life
- How women experienced frontier life
- How Mehetabel met her husband John Coit of New London, Connecticut
- The role love and social rank played in early New England marriages
- Early New England courtship rituals
- What chores did average women like Mehetabel perform on a typical day
- The work slaves performed in well-off households like the Coits’
- How typical it was for early American families to own one or more slaves
- How early American households with one or two slaves integrated those slaves into their households
- What child birth was like for early New England women
- The influence wives like Mehetabel had over the ideas, opinions, and politics of their husbands
- How early American women did their laundry
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Michelle Marchetti Coughlin
- One Colonial Woman’s World: The Life and Writings of Mehetable Chandler Coit
- One Colonial Woman’s World Website
- Abigail Adams Birthplace Website
- Gibson House Museum
- Episode 022: Vivian Bruce Conger, Deborah Read Franklin & Sally Franklin Bache
- Episode 145: Rosemarie Zaggari, Mercy Otis Warren & the American Revolution
- Episode 150: Woody Holton, Abigail Adams, Revolutionary Speculator
- Episode 223: Susan Sleeper-Smith, A Native American History of the Ohio River Valley & Great Lakes Region
- Episode 237: Nora Doyle, Motherhood in Early America
- Episode 244: Kimberly Alexander, Shoe Stories from Early America
Time Warp Question
What if Mehetabel had kept more detailed entries in her diary, or updated her diary more often, what would you like to know about her life that you don’t know or perhaps what more would you like to know about the lives of early New England women?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
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