Stenton: 'Women's Work: Childbearing and Motherhood in Early America' Zoom Program

29apr2:00 pm3:00 pmStenton: 'Women's Work: Childbearing and Motherhood in Early America' Zoom Program

Event Details

Repeated cycles of childbearing and childrearing structured the lives of most women in early America. This presentation by Nora Doyle, author of Maternal Bodies: Defining Motherhood in Early America (UNC Press, 2018), will explore how women’s attitudes toward motherhood were shaped by the physical experiences of pregnancy and childbirth. Sources such as letters, diaries, slave narratives, and other personal testimonies provide a window into women’s lived experiences, and these sources reveal that women viewed motherhood as fundamentally defined by the labor of their bodies. At a time when American culture increasingly idealized motherhood as a joyful and supremely fulfilling emotional and spiritual role, women’s anxieties over the physical challenges of childbearing made them deeply ambivalent toward motherhood. While white middle-class and elite women emphasized the day-to-day physicality of pregnancy and childbirth, enslaved women’s testimonies show that their experience of childbearing was most profoundly shaped by the commodification of their bodies as mothers. Childbearing women, both free and enslaved, placed the work of their bodies at the heart of their understanding of motherhood, but for vastly different reasons.


Zoom Registration is required to view the webinar. You will receive an email confirmation with the Zoom Webinar Link after you register on Eventbrite.

Register HERE.



(Friday) 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm



Stenton is one of the earliest, best-preserved, and most authentic historic houses in Philadelphia. Completed in 1730 as a country-seat, plantation house for James Logan - Secretary to William Penn; merchant, politician, justice, scientist, and scholar – Stenton was home to six generations of the Logan family, as well as a diverse community of servants and enslaved Africans, including Dinah, who lived and worked at Stenton for over 60 years. Furnished with 18th- and 19th-century Logan family objects, and remaining in little-altered condition, a visit to Stenton offers an unparalleled experience of early 4601 N. 18th St. Philadelphia, PA 19140

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