HIST 1361 9/3/09 Family Life in Colonial America *Extended family lived in house *Housewife?s role has changed over time Little commonwealths -Early colonial life was unstable. Became more stable with more families. -Highly discouraged for single people living alone. Needed to live with family or as a servant to another family. -Women generally lived with their parents until they were married. -Girls would be hired out to other families as domestic workers. -Parents were expected to keep their household in order *Teach their children to be obedient *Make sure children go to church *Expected servants to go to church -Marriage was about emotional relationships and economic reasons *Farming families: husbands waited to acquire land *Poor newlyweds often lived in small quarters *When a man brought land into marriage, woman was expected to bring a dowry (land, cash, livestock, household goods, etc). Supposed to amount to half the value of what the groom contributed. Legal Status of Women: Femme sole: single woman -same economic rights as any free man Femme covert: married woman -legal identity covered by husband. Had no legal identity of her own. All her property transferred to husband. Couldn?t engage in any economic or legal activity on her own. Couldn?t hold property. Widows? thirds: widows received a third of their husband?s property. -ensured economic security People considered children to be natural born sinners. Child?s will needed to be broken in order to make them orderly when they grow up. Material Life No privacy in homes Household Economies -Household was basic economic unit -All women worked; domestic work in the home or in someone else?s home -Men worked in the fields HIST 1361 9/3/09 Alexis Family Life in Colonial America
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