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"Graph 6: Signatures of women v. men over time," from Literacy in Colonial New England by Kenneth A. Lockridge. Copyright © 1974 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.


This chart, from Kenneth Lockridge's important book on literacy in the colonial period, clearly presents the differing skill levels according to sex. Literacy skills -- consisting of both the ability to read and to write -- were valued during the colonial period, particularly the former. Possessing the ability to read enabled Protestants to read the Bible themselves and thereby deepen their piety. There was no comparable religious necessity for possessing the ability to write.

signatures of women v. men overtime

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