Revolutionary Mothers Summary

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Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for Independence, authored by Carol Berkin, presents a multi-faceted view of the women who affected, and were affected by, the Revolutionary War. Moving far beyond the stories of familiar patriot women, Berkin finds a series of lenses through which to examine the time period. She chooses to show the war through the eyes of patriot and loyalist, rich and poor, American and British, Indian and African American women. In doing so, she allows the reader to see the war not as black and white, good versus evil, but rather as a gray-toned struggle, which affected a kaleidoscope of women and their families. It is clear that Berkin admires the women about whom she writes, for qualities such as…show more content…
Often citing Women of the American Revolution by Elizabeth Ellet, Berkin taps a wealth of material from diaries, letters, newspapers and recollections about familiar, as well as unsung, heroines of the War. Because Ellet’s work was published in 1848-1850, many of the family histories and recollections were relatively fresh memories at the time of Ellet’s writing, and men and women of all social stations wrote the diaries and letters cited. The author notes in her introduction that Ellet’s presentation of this source material is somewhat biased by the popular sentiment of Ellet’s own generation (xii). Ellet uses the material to support her premise that the women of the Revolution were fulfilling their proper roles as helpmates and nurturers of their husbands. Berkin, however, uses the source material from Women of the Revolution in such a way as to show that the women were heroic in their own right, not merely in their assigned womanly…show more content…
However, I regularly use trade books with my upper elementary students in their study of American history. What is different and refreshing about Berkin’s book is that she has introduced me to an entirely new cast of characters. While I have actively sought out information about women of the Revolutionary War for my students to read, most of the trade books focus on the same few women. Some of these women are famous mainly for being married to their more famous husbands (Martha Washington), others played rather minor roles but have somehow become idealized (Betsy Ross), and yet others are really composites who are presented as individual women (Molly Pitcher). Very few of the women written about in trade books were loyalist women, and I believe it is important for children to hear the voice of these women, too. Information about the roles played by African Americans and Indian women is very hard to come by, but fascinating and vital. I am very excited to learn about so many real women who were strong and intelligent, and who will inspire me to dig harder for more information for my students. I will also be inspired to look for the ghosts of these women in the streets of Boston and the surrounding

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