Review by Choice Review
This solid survey summarizes most of the important literature on women in the early republic and includes a diverse cast of characters, including women of many races, religions, and classes. The book is replete with anecdotes, focusing on individual examples rather than statistics or a broad historical narrative. The book takes the same thematic approach as the other titles in the "Women's Roles through History" series, breaking the material into categories such as "Women and the Law" and "Women and Religion." The lack of a unified chronology is problematic. There is no clear sense of change over the course of the 18th century, and though independent scholar Smith mentions the American Revolution as an important moment, it appears at random points in each chapter. There is some interesting in-depth material that other survey texts omit (e.g., a discussion of breast-feeding habits drawn from the work of Marylynn Salmon), and the esoteric structure draws attention to some less often discussed areas of women's lives, including travel and the arts. However, scholars informed in women's history will not find much new. Best used in conjunction with works that include a strong chronology of the 18th century and paired with more in-depth studies, such as Laurel Ulrich's often taught A Midwife's Tale (1990). Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduate collections. A. R. Todd University of Chicago
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.