Family Responsibilities

By: Ellie Conaway


Most people think that life is hard, but think about all the responsibilities people had during colonial times. Back in the 1600s, colonial people did a lot more than just sit around. They worked way harder than we do now. Families had to build their own houses and they didn't have all the great technology and tools like we do today. All of the colonists were grouped in to social classes. There were the gentry, the middle class, and the lower class. These responsibilities were hard, but most colonial people managed to find a way through the tough times.

Women, Men, And Children

All colonial people had to work for a living, if they didn't work hard, they didn't get very far in life. Women actually did pretty much as many things as men. Women took care of chores along with the children. They also cooked, prepared food, took care of the vegetable garden, salted/smoked meats, pickled cabbages, dried fruits and nuts, made soap and candles from animal fat, and spun wool into yarn to make cloth for clothing. Also during harvest time the women worked in the fields. As you can see life wasn't the easiest. Men also had to do lots of work back then. Men, worked on fields, spent many evenings in front of the fire place scrapping animal hides to make leather for coats, hats, and shoes. Men made useful furniture like tables and chairs. Children as well, had many chores. When boys and girls were younger they also went to school, but soon they went back home to learn from their mothers, and boys kept on going to school. For chores older boys worked in the fields with their dads, and girls learned to do the work that their mothers did. Both young children Took care of farm animals and gathered berries in the woods.

Colonists at Home and Houses

During colonial times, the colonists had to build there own houses by hand. There were many types of houses, shapes, and styles. New England homes typically had two rooms in the front area and a third room running across the back. Many houses also had a second floor over the front two rooms. There were also names of houses. One is a longhouse, it was a type of houses that that mostly Indians lived in. It was also very long. Typically 80 ft. long and and 18 ft. wide. Colonists spent most of their time at home. Home was actually not that much of a private place. The houses often included servants, slaves, and visitors. The average number of children was seven. There were many different materials to make your house out of, but the most important material was wood. Colonists near the Appalachians used local limestone for homes. Some houses in New England used rocks from fields for building materials. By the 1700s, many wealthy families built their homes out of brick. Families had to work hard to have a nice house. It wasn't easy to get a house back in the 1700s.

Social Classes

In the 1600s people were grouped into social classes for many reasons and their lifestyle. The richest type of people were called the gentry. The gentry were also the best educated, and owned large farms or plantations. Other people of the gentry were merchants, doctors, lawyers, ministers, and skilled craft workers, such as goldsmiths. The middle class were a group of people who weren't the richest people, but they also weren't the poorest people. The middle class included small holdings, ran shops, ran small businesses, or worked at skilled crafts, such as shoe making, or cabinet making. Women produced candles, cheese, cloth, soap and other family goods. Men could vote. As you can see their lifestyles were very different, but in the end they were also a lot alike.


Life was hard in the 1600s, but the colonial people managed to get through the tough times. Colonial people were always hard at work. They worked for almost everyday of their lives. It wasn't very easy to get a house in the colonial times. You had to work hard and put lots of effort into building your house and they did. People were judged a lot more than we are today. They were grouped into social classes by their lifestyles. These colonial times were tough and families had to do lots of work, to get anywhere in life. Family responsibilities were a big part of history.



Colonial Crafts By: Bobby Kalmen

Our Country Social Studies Book

Online Resources:

World Book Online (Colonial Life In America)

All About the Author

My name is Ellie Conaway and a few things I enjoy besides writing are skiing, dancing, hanging out with my dog, and also hanging out with my friends. I also enjoy many sports including soccer, softball, skiing, dancing, running, and I also do a little gymnastics. I hope you enjoyed my non-fiction passage I wrote.