cover image First Generations

First Generations

Carol Berkin. Hill & Wang, $23 (234pp) ISBN 978-0-8090-4561-7

This academic study by Berkin (Women of America: A History), a history professor at Baruch College in New York City, examines the lives of 17th- and 18th-century women from a feminist perspective that focuses on gender and class. Employing excellent research skills, the author documents the lives of white as well as Native American and African American women in their diverse roles as wives, mothers, widows, employed workers and slaves. Although the complexity of the subject often yields more questions than answers about how women negotiated their lives, Berkin has made a notable contribution by utilizing recent scholarship to address family life in the mid-Atlantic and Southern colonies as well as in the much studied New England settlements. Her analysis of Native American and African American women, as well as of how the American Revolution affected female roles, is enlightening. (Sept.)