Inventing the American Woman
A history of women’s roles in American society.
This paper charts the course of women’s history from the Puritan times through the American Civil War. It explains the English notion of Goodwife through its transformation into the Republican Mother in the 1780s. Information on the Cult of True Womanhood, passionless, sexual attitudes, separate spheres, the Salem Witch Trials and the Lowell Mill girls.
“Early American women’s history underwent several evolutions from the 1600 Puritan Goodwives to early reformers in the 1860s. Women’s roles in the northern and southern colonies differed prior to and following the American Revolution. However, one encompassing ideal was that of Republican motherhood. Notions of women as sexual beings also changed during this time period and partly formed the basis of 19th century sentimental culture. The story of the early American women is a fascinating account of family, community, and society.”