American Women Through Time
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Go to: II. RESEARCH SOURCES (Historical Overviews, Primary Sources, and Secondary Sources)


1708 That Properly Belongs to Every Christian Man, 1708 is part of the Library of Virginia's Working Out Her Destiny exhibit.

1740s Eliza Lucas Pinckney helps introduce the cultivation of indigo to South Carolina
A brief profile of Eliza Lucas Pinckney appears in Enterprising Women: 250 Years of American Business.

1746 Lucy Terry Prince composes "Bars Fight," the earliest known poem by a black person in America.
Lucy Terry Prince Composes Poem [Mass Moments, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities] provides information about Prince and the text of the poem.

1756 Priscilla's Homecoming tells the story of Priscilla, a 10 year old girl taken on a slave ship from Sierra Leone to South Carolina in 1756.

1761 John Wheatley Purchases a Slave Child, July 11, 1761 [Mass Moments, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities]

1762 Courtship of Abigail Smith and John Adams begins.
Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive includes images and transcriptions of their letters during this and later periods.

1773 Phillis Wheatley becomes the first African American to publish a book: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.
Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral is part of The New York Public Library's Digital Schomburg African American Women Writers of the 19th Century.
The Massachusetts Historical Society's From Our Cabinet feature includes images of the title page and frontpiece of the book, as well as a poem in Wheatley's hand.

1774 Juan Bautista de Anza begins overland expeditions from what is now Mexico to the San Francisco Bay area. Patricia Molen van Ee devotes several pages to the women who took part in the expeditions in Women on the Move: Overland Journeys to California.

1774 "Mother" Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers, establishes the movement's first permanent settlement in Watervliet, New York.
The Watervliet Shaker Historic District is featured on National Park Service's Places Where Women Made History site.

1774 "The Peculiar Circumstances of the Times" [Digital History] reproduces a letter from Mercy Warren, dated 29 December 1774, to Catharine Macaulay. Warren described the impact of the closing of the port of Boston and of the Coercive Acts.

1775 Abigail Adams Knows "The Die is Cast" [Mass Moments, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities]

1775 Battle of Bunker Hill
The Massachusetts Historical Society's online exhibit, The Decisive Day is Come: The Battle of Bunker Hill, includes a June 18, 1775 Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams.

1775 Take the Money and Run: April/May 1775 -- Rachel Revere to Paul Revere is part of the exhibit, Spy Letters of the American Revolution [Clements Library, University of Michigan].

1776 Abigail Adams' "Remember the Ladies" letter to John Adams, 31 March 1776. See Selected Manuscripts: Remember the Ladies from the Massachusetts Historical Society.

1777 Lucy Knox to Henry Knox, August 23, 1777, part of the Treasures of the Collection exhibit [Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

1777 Mary Katharine Goddard is the printer of the first copy of the Declaration of Independence with the typeset names of the signers.
See the profile of Goddard in the Enterprising Women exhibit.

1780 The sentiments of an American Woman is featured in An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera [Library of Congress]. Read Rosemary Fry Plakas' essay The Sentiments of an American Woman for background.

1780s Martha Washington's Gown, 1780s [Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian]

1781 Jury Decides in Favor of "Mum Bett" Freeman, August 22, 1781 [Mass Moments, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities]

1782 Deborah Sampson, soldier in disguise [Massachusetts Historical Society]
Deborah Sampson enlisted in the Continental Army under the name "Robert Shurtliff." This site reproduces a letter by Paul Revere in support of a military pension for Deborah Sampson Gannett.
Masquerade: Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier [Old South Meeting House, Boston, 29 September 2004] "Join historian Alfred Young, author of Masquerade, and Pulitzer Prize winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, in examining Americans' public memory of Sampson and other Revolutionary-era women. Performer and storyteller Joan Gatturna brings Deborah Sampson to life in a dramatic first-person performance."

1785 Martha Ballard begins her diary on January 1, 1785.
See Martha Ballard's Diary Online.

1786 A Petition by Rachel Lovell Wells, 1786 [Women's Project of New Jersey]

1787 Delegates to the Constitutional Convention approve the Constitution of the United States.
Mercy Warren to Catherine Macaulay, 28 September 1787 [Digital History]
Warren writes of public reaction to the document.

1789 Martha Washington to Francis B. Washington [Archive of Past Documents, Gilder Lehrman Collection]

1789 Mercy Warren. Autograph letter signed, dated Plimouth [Massachusetts], 20 September 1789, to Catharine Macaulay is one of the letters that is featured in Dear Madam: Letters Between Catharine Macaulay and Mercy Warren

1790 Petition of Mary Katherine Goddard, January 29, 1790 is part of the online exhibit, Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress, 1789-1991.

1796 Gilbert Stuart's portraits of Martha Washington and George Washington.
Ellen Miles discusses the incomplete composition of the "Athenaeum portraits" in her illustrated lecture, Familar Faces: Gilbert Stuart's George & Martha Washington [WGBH Forum Network].

1798 Griffith v. Griffith's Executors
An overview of Griffith v. Griffith's Executors: 1798, taken from Women's Rights on Trial (Gale, 1996), is available online.

II. Research Sources

Historical Overviews

The American Revolution section of American Women's History: A Research Guide includes information about Bibliographies, Biographical Sources, Historical Overviews, and other sources. See the interview with Cokie Roberts about her book, Founding Mothers, or listen to the interview with Carol Berkin on Revolutionary Mothers [Talking History, 7 July 2005].


Baumgarten, Linda. What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America. Williamsburg and New Haven: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Yale University Press, 2002. Reviewed by David Waldstreicher in Common-Place (October 2003).

Women's Clothing [Colonial Williamsburg Foundation] includes Linda Baumgarten's essay, "Fashions of Motherhood," a glossary of terms, and examples of gowns, shoes, and accessories.

Diaries & Letters

Drinker, Elizabeth. The Diary of Elizabeth Drinker. Edited by Elaine Forman Crane. Boston : Northeastern University Press, c1991.
Drinker, a Philadelphia Quaker, kept a diary from 1758 until her death in 1807.
Extracts from Journal of Elizabeth Drinker, part of the African in America [PBS], includes Drinker's observations on the effects of the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793.
See the theme issue on Elizabeth Drinker in Pennsylvania History 68 (October 2001).

The Elizabeth Murray Project [California State University, Long Beach] includes a variety of primary sources (letters, advertisements, portraits), an overview of Murray's life, and teaching resources.

Mrs. Mary Dewees's journal from Philadelphia to Kentucky is part of the The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820.
Dewees describes her journey from Philadelphia to Lexington, Kentucky. Dated Sept. 27, 1788-Feb. 11 1788 [i.e. 1789].

The Papers of John Jay include numerous letters to and from Jay's wife, Sarah.

Historic Sites

Emlen, Robert P. A House for Widow Brown: Architectural Statement and Social Position in Providence, 1791 [online]. Old-Time New England 77 (Fall/Winter 1999): 5-33.


Early American Newspapers, Series I, 1690-1876 [Database Online]. Chester, Vt.: Readex, 2004- .
Check with your academic library to determine if you have access to this commercial database.

Virginia Gazette [online]. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, n.d.
This freely available site provides access to the paper from 1736 to 1780.

Secondary Sources

The database America: History & Life offers a simple option for limiting a search for articles and other sources to a specific time period. If you are searching for articles that cover the 1700s, enter 1700h in the "Time Period" row of the search screen. You can also limit by decade (e.g., 1770d). See America: History & Life: Searching by Time Period for an example using another time period.

American Women Through Time

Ken Middleton | Walker Library, MTSU, Murfreesboro, TN 37132