Catalogue


Peoples of a spacious land : families and cultures in Colonial New England /
Gloria L. Main.
imprint
Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 2001.
description
xi, 316 p. : ill.
ISBN
0674006283 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 2001.
isbn
0674006283 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
4581589
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Gloria L. Main is Professor of History, Emerita, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-08-01:
Main (history, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) has written a fine book about family life in early New England that joins a long list of distinguished studies on the topic. Her thorough account of these studies grounds her own work, a sophisticated addition that looks at sexuality, courtship, marriage, childbirth, child rearing, childhood itself, old age, and other related topics. What's different, however, is that Main has woven in descriptions of Native American family life, which she contrasts to English practice, thus augmenting the usual historical sources with anthropological research. Generations of historians have shunned comparison as an organizing technique, but Main uses it here to great effect, which makes for good history as well as good general reading. The focus, however, is mainly on English colonials, attention on Native Americans being less well developed. This skilled study is nevertheless a graceful, scholarly book. Recommended for large public and all academic libraries. Bonnie Collier, Yale Law Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2002-04-01:
Main (Univ. of Colorado) studies the evolution of how colonists in New England adapted traditional English family life in their new environment. Although the author poses the region's Native inhabitants as "an essential counterpoint," the book focuses overwhelmingly on the English experience. After an ethnography of precontact Native New England, an overview of social conditions leading to colonization, and a discussion of the early ethnohistory of the region, Main devotes several chapters to the dynamics of family life for early New Englanders. Offering an interesting explanation for different approaches to settlement based on the origins of settlers, Main posits that the township system became a "land-gobbling engine of growth . . . fueled by an enormously successful family regime that produced hordes of ... children." Chapters devoted to relational topics within the family system, arranged chronologically around the family lifecycle, note how the new product differed from the original imported from England. The book concludes with chapters on "transitions": that of the Indians documents the path of decline and marginal survival, while transition for the colonists meant prosperity and dominance. In the end, the immigrants did not create "a reformed version of England" as the first wave of settlers may have envisioned, but rather "a new New England, an American society." Graduate students and faculty. M. J. Puglisi Virginia Intermont College
Reviews
Review Quotes
Main's book depicts the New England family as an engine of growth that generated a multitude of industrious farmers and frugal artisans. Collectively, the New Englanders overcame their geographic handicap of settling a region with comparatively low agricultural yields...This is a thought-provoking, innovative work that deserves to be widely read by students of early American history. Immaculately produced by Harvard University Press, Main's findings will influence the research agendas of scholars working on colonial New England for some time to come.
An important and valuable work that will last...Its value lies in its systematic comparison of New English life with the lives of comparable groups remaining in England and of the Narragansett Indians on dimensions such as social organization, patterns of work, gender relations, sexual practices, and ways of dealing with sickness and death. I cannot think of another work that makes such comparisons as helpfully. Main adds to our understanding of the English in America.
Main...has written a fine book about family life in early New England that joins a long list of distinguished studies on the topic. Her thorough account of these studies grounds her own work, a sophisticated addition that looks at sexuality, courtship, marriage, childbirth, child rearing, childhood itself, old age, and other related topics. What's different, however, is that Main has woven in descriptions of Native American family life, which she contrasts to English practice, thus augmenting the usual historical sources with anthropological research. Generations of historians have shunned comparison as an organizing technique, but Main uses it here to great effect, which makes for good history as well as good general reading...This skilled study is nevertheless a graceful, scholarly book. Recommended for large public and all academic libraries.
Gloria Main...offers a magisterial analysis of colonial New England society, literally from the ground up. Beginning with the region's environment, she draws on a vast array of studies and her own powerful research skills to paint an authoritative portrait of the struggles of daily life for colonists and Native Americans. For both groups, the family was the basic organizing unit of society. By focusing on family life, the author finds the key to understanding the society, culture, and economy of colonial New England...A rewarding read...[ Peoples of a Spacious Land ] offer[s] readers a rich understanding of the society that played such a crucial role in the making of the United States.
Gloria Main...offers a magisterial analysis of colonial New England society, literally from the ground up. Beginning with the region's environment, she draws on a vast array of studies and her own powerful research skills to paint an authoritative portrait of the struggles of daily life for colonists and Native Americans. For both groups, the family was the basic organizing unit of society. By focusing on family life, the author finds the key to understanding the society, culture, and economy of colonial New England...A rewarding read...[Peoples of a Spacious Land] offer[s] readers a rich understanding of the society that played such a crucial role in the making of the United States.
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, August 2001
Choice, April 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
century and makes clear how the promise of perpetual accessions of new land eventually extended Puritan family culture across much of the North American continent.
Main Description
In this book about families--those of the various native peoples of southern New England and those of the English settlers and their descendants--Gloria Main compares the ways in which the two cultures went about solving common human problems. Using original sources--diaries, inventories, wills, court records--as well as the findings of demographers, ethnologists, and cultural anthropologists, she compares the family life of the English colonists with the lives of comparable groups remaining in England and of native Americans. She looks at social organization, patterns of work, gender relations, sexual practices, childbearing and childrearing, demographic changes, and ways of dealing with sickness and death. Main finds that the transplanted English family system produced descendants who were unusually healthy for the times and spectacularly fecund. Large families and steady population growth led to the creation of new towns and the enlargement of old ones with inevitably adverse consequences for the native Americans in the area. Main follows the two cultures into the eighteenth century and makes clear how the promise of perpetual accessions of new land eventually extended Puritan family culture across much of the North American continent.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Native New Englandp. 1
Newcomersp. 19
Taking the Landp. 38
Sexuality, Courtship, and Marriagep. 62
Bearing and Losing Childrenp. 95
Childrearing and the Experience of Childhoodp. 117
Youth and Old Agep. 156
Transitions: The Narragansettsp. 188
Transitions: The Englishp. 203
Select Bibliographyp. 239
Notesp. 241
Indexp. 313
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem