American Women!
A Celebration of Our History
April 22 -- October 29, 2000

Old World Beliefs Meet New World Realities


Click on the photo for an enlarged view

Women were inferior to men--that was a common belief among Europeans arriving in America in 1600. Yet once here, women were expected to assist the men in the fields and forests while shouldering traditional female responsibility for the care and management of every detail inside the household. Girls were taught to read for the sole purpose of following the dictates of the Bible.

Single women had more legal rights than married women, but the options of single women for employment were quite restricted. And the cycle of sexual maturity, reproduction, and aging, sharply defined appropriate behavior for each stage of a woman's life.

Married women lived within the social and legal confines of an ironclad contract in which romantic love was of little importance. The money and possessions that a woman brought to a marriage became her husband's property as soon as she said, "I do." A colonial wife could not own her own property, write a will, or even speak in public. She could not even lay claim to her own children!

After the Revolutionary War, motherhood gained political importance because women had taught patriotism and good citizenship to their sons. "Revolutionary" ideas included new and improved schooling for girls (to better prepare them for raising a new generation of patriotic sons) and organizing mothers to promote charitable causes.

New revolutions were brewing.

American Women!

Pocahontas, Native American Princess
Rebecca Nurse, Accused Witch
Phillis Wheatley, Poet
Mercy Otis Warren, Poet and Historian
Betsy Ross, Seamstress
Abigail Adams, First Lady and First Mother

"red arrow" Continue the story--NEXT..."From Growth to Civil War 1800-1870"
or visit:
  From Prairie to Polls, 1870-1920 From Fifties to Feminism, 1950-1990
  From Jazz to War, 1920-1950 Into the 21st Century, 1990 onward
"red arrow" View an alphabetical list of all 106 women included in American Women! with links to photos and biographies for selected women
"red arrow" View a Thank You to over 100 lenders to Ameican Women!
"red arrow" Return to American Women! index page
"black arrow" Return to Hoover Library-Museum virtual exhibits page
"black arrow" Return to Hoover Library-Museum main index page