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Return to "Gender and Opportunity" Lesson Plan

Student questions for "Gender and Opportunity in Colonial America"

As you read through the materials for this project, keep in mind these central questions:

1. What economic, legal, and political rights did women have during the colonial period? 
2. How did Elizabeth Murray attempt to create an independent life in Boston?
3. To what extent do her experiences reflect the experiences of colonial women in general?

I. Introductory Secondary Source excerpts:

Document 1: “Marriage and Family,” Carol Berkin and Leslie Horowitz, eds., Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices: Documents in Early American History, (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998), 48-49.
Document 2: Excerpt from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), 37-38.

II. Introduction (Student Essay) 
Read through this essay. Embedded in it you will find links to documents 1-6 below, which pertain specifically to question 1 above. Documents 7-11 will help you to address questions 2 and 3 above.

III. Primary Sources Document list:

Document 1: William Gouge, Of Domesticall Duties (London, 1622)
Document 2: The Law's Resolution of Women’s Rights, (London, 1632)
Document 3 : William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England,  (Oxford, 1765-69)
Document 4 : “Feme Sole Trader Statutes,” South Carolina, 1712, 1744
Document 5 : “An Act Concerning Feme-Sole traders,” Pennsylvania, 1718
Document 6 : “An Act for the Prevention of Undue Election of Burgesses,” 1699
Document 7: James Turner Engraving
Document 8: Trade Bill
Document 9: 1754 Letter from Elizabeth Murray to James Murray
Document 10: 1759 Advertisement Elizabeth Murray
Document 11: 1760 Prenuptial Agreement Elizabeth Murray