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Wives and Mothers, School Mistresses and Scullery Maids: Working Women in Upper Canada, 1790-1840 [Paperback]

Elizabeth Jane Errington


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Book Description

Sept. 12 1995
Errington explores evidence of a distinctive women's culture and shows that the work women did constituted a common experience shared by Upper Canadian women. Most of them not only experienced the uncertainties of marriage and the potential dangers of childbirth but also took part in making sure that the needs of their families were met. How women actually fulfilled their numerous responsibilities differed, however. Age, location, marital status, class, and society's changing expectations of women all had a direct impact on what was expected of them, what they did, and how they did it. Considering "women's work" within the social and historical context, Errington shows that the complexity of colonial society cannot be understood unless the roles and work of women in Upper Canada are taken into account.

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"Wives and Mothers, School Mistresses and Scullery Maids is a fine example of reading sources against the grain to find new evidence and interpretations that have been missed or ignored by others. Errington searches out the reality of women's lives from commonplace evidence - a reality that at times meant drudgery, unhappy marriages, or non-conformity with the prevailing 'cult of True Womanhood.'" J.K. Johnson, History, Carleton University. "A first-rate analysis of the myriad roles played by women in Upper Canadian society in the early colonial period." Susan E. Houston, History, York University.

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