Idea for Summer Semester Project

For my semester project I am thinking about creating a digital project focusing on women in Colonial/ Early America. The project will use primary source documents to tell the story of a handful of women living in Williamsburg during the mid 18th century. These women were not social elites, the women whose names are most referred to during this time. Instead they were business owners, working as tavern keepers (including Christiana Campbell and Jane Vobe), millners, and even as a printer. They interacted with socialites, political figures, and those of every day standing.

Too often women from this era are portrayed as subordinate to men, expected to marry, have children, and maintain the household. A google search of colonial women would indicate to students that this is the only mindset in regards to women during this time. This portrayal gives a generalized mindset to an entire gender without taking into consideration race, social status, and just general circumstance.

Some of these women have been discussed by both Colonial Williamsburg and the Encyclopedia of Virginia, however I wish to bring to light more information regarding them in an interactive way to allow students to question the generalization that some digital projects have done. I also wish to encourage people to consider whether or not the role these women had were substantial or if, like an article from the Encyclopedia of Virginia argues, “their businesses were an extension of the domestic work performed by women” and thus did not challenge the gender roles.

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