Cover image for Ye heart of a man : the domestic life of men in colonial New England
Ye heart of a man : the domestic life of men in colonial New England
Wilson, Lisa, 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 255 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
F7 .C36 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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An investigation of the everyday lives of men in pre-revolutionary America. It looks at men and women in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut, comparing their experiences in order to understand the domestic environment in which they spent most of their time.

Author Notes

Lisa Wilson is professor of history at Connecticut College

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

For the past generation, a cohort of professional historians have focused on the lives of women in Colonial America. Foremost among these have been authors like Laurel Ulrich Thatcher (Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, Vintage, 1991. reprint) and Mary Beth Norton (Founding Mothers and Fathers: Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society, LJ 3/1/96). Now Wilson (history, Connecticut Coll.) turns the spotlight on Colonial men. Her examination of diaries, letters, and other manuscripts reveals surprisingly that the average Colonial man viewed himself (and was viewed by others) as a member of a domestic, familial unit in which he had rights as well as obligations. Most husbands and wives worked togetherÄthe concept of the man occupying the "public sphere" while the woman stayed at home belonged more to the 19th century than to the previous ones. Wilson's clear, engaging writing is authoritative and free of doctrinaire cant. Recommended for all large academic and public libraries.ÄThomas J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Gender studies of early America, particularly of Colonial New England (e.g., Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's Good Wives, 1982, and MaryBeth Norton's Liberty's Daughters, CH, Oct'80) have focused primarily on the experiences of women. Wilson provides a much needed complement to those studies, examining for the first time the various roles that defined a man's place in New England society, and more important, what men felt about those roles. Employing diaries and letters as well as public records from the period, Wilson shows that men gave considerable attention and introspection to the realization that God and society would judge them--and they ultimately would judge themselves--on their domestic and public bearing. Although Colonial New England was definitely a male-oriented society, men did not enjoy, or even seek, situations of universal, unchanging dominance. The husband clearly was the head of the household, but domestic order was based on a recognized system of interdependence and reciprocity. Public reputation rested on the needs to maintain a well-ordered household and to fulfill a useful and productive role in the community. According to Wilson, men in early New England took these responsibilities much to heart. A refreshing and valuable perspective on early American society. Upper-division undergraduates and above. M. J. Puglisi Virginia Intermont College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
To Be of Use
Chapter 1 A "Business for Life"p. 13
Chapter 2 "It Will Not Injure You": Men and Courtshipp. 37
Chapter 3 A Husband "Well-Ordered"p. 75
Chapter 4 Providerp. 99
Chapter 5 "Ye Heart of a Father"p. 115
The Specter of Uselessness
Chapter 6 Widowerp. 143
Chapter 7 "Like an Armed Man": Retirement and Manhoodp. 171
Conclusionp. 186
Notesp. 189
Indexp. 241