Women of the Puritan Society

What Life Was Like

Duties

  • Main role was wife and mother
  • Had to know how to spin yarn, knit, and sew clothes
  • Cook all the food over a fire - uneven distribution of heat because they didnt have stoves made it much harder to cook food properly so they had to be very skilled in the kitchen.
  • Gather herbs for food and medicine
  • Cleaning and laundry
  • Helping out in healing and medicine as well as childbirth of neighbors
  • Teach children rudimentary reading and writing skills
  • Educate children on prayers and church customs that were very important to Puritan culture and ensure their spiritual well being which was more important than physical well being.

Education

    • Puritans were required education because they believed that Satan would keep those couldn’t read from scriptures (however it was only for men)
    • young girls didn’t receive formal education like their brothers did
    • girls received education in household skills
    • 1/3 women could sign their name, which was the accepted standard of literacy at that time
    • Boys would learn skills and trade while girls would learn household and social skills
    • A governess usually taught the girls enough reading, writing, and arithmetic to run a household and the social skills to attract a husband

Women and Religion

  • Attended weekly meetings
  • Believed that even though women were weak, they were very influential in the success of the minister and the church
  • Women were the largest and most responsive attendants in the congregation
  • Women were not allowed to pray publicly with the congregation
  • Also not allowed to interpret the scriptures because they were considered not educated enough.

Marriage

    • women tried to feed family or gain dowry in order to marry-desirability of a woman depended on their dowry
    • wealthier the family, easier for the woman to be married off
    • parental consent was a huge part of marriages:
      • women would lean on father for support and help for finding a husband
    • women were encouraged to marry men who were able to provide financial aid and comfort for the wife
    • God is the maker of marriages: couples seeking espousal should be active in prayer and seek God for whether or not their choice is good.
    • Puritans had a high view of marriage, and men were encouraged to treat the women with compassion and treat them as lifelong friends

Childbirth and Motherhood

  • Most had several children spaced about 2 years apart
  • Pressure to teach the children and ensure they didn’t turn out like “brats”
  • Mother, not the father, had the control over most decisions made about the children
  • Believed that separating children from their mother at adolescence encouraged them to develop their superior relationship with God.
  • Spent an average of 20 years of their lives pregnant or nursing

Women's Discontent

  • women were considered weak in both the body and mind
  • women tried to manipulate their “born roles” to fulfill their own goals and aspirations
  • community leaders were men, accepted inferiority of women
  • men reacted harshly to women who objected this role
  • some women weren’t swayed to remain quiet