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In the late s, while writing an encyclopedia of twentieth-century American literature, I checked the competition to see how entries on authors were composed and what secondary sources were included. I was also aware of T.

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The Lowell mill girls were young female workers who came to work in industrial corporations in Lowell, Massachusettsduring the Industrial Revolution in the United States. The workers initially recruited by the corporations were daughters of New England farmers, typically between the ages of 15 and During the early period, women came to the mills for various reasons: to help a brother pay for college, for the educational opportunities offered in Lowell, or to earn supplemental income for the family.

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Eventually, continuing witchcraft rumors forced the Parsons family to resettle in Boston. Return to Learn — Norwich, Norfolk. Prior to Salem, most witchcraft trials in New England resulted in acquittal. Other Salem stories blame Tituba, an enslaved woman in the household of the Reverend Samuel Parrisfor teaching witchcraft to the local girls.

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Women held a precarious, mostly powerless position within the deeply religious Puritan community. In she was charged with witchcraft. Women were both the victims and the accused in this terrible American history, casualties of a society created and controlled by powerful men. Soon other girls reported similar feelings.

Some have suggested that the girls were faking their symptoms. In my scholarship on the darker aspects of U. I teach a college course here in Massachusetts that explores this perennially popular but frequently misinterpreted period in New England history.

Too rich, too poor, too female

Too rich, too poor, too female In my scholarship on the darker aspects of U. They were also about a justice system that escalated local grievances to capital offenses and targeted a subjugated minority. Bridget Marshall does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

The Puritans thought women should have babies, raise children, manage household life and model Christian subservience to their husbands. When women stepped outside their prescribed roles, they became targets.

Too little money demonstrated bad character. Parsons, too, was acquitted. Mary Webster of Hadley, Massachusetts, was married without children and relied on neighborly charity to survive.

Some threw fits, crying out that they saw terrifying specters. Too many children could indicate a deal with a devil. Across New England, where witch trials occurred somewhat regularly from untilwomen vastly outed men in the ranks of the accused and executed. Perhaps the most salient point about witch trials, students quickly come to see, is gender. Having too few children was suspicious, too. They are, presumably, referring to the Salem witch trialswhen 19 people in 17th-century Massachusetts were executed on charges of witchcraft.

Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. To get his wife out of the way, Abigail makes witchcraft accusations.

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You can read us daily by subscribing to our newsletter. Apparently, Webster was not meek and grateful enough for the alms she received: She developed a reputation for being unpleasant. Smith died anyway. Webster, however, survived the attempted execution — much to the terror of her neighbors, I imagine. Bridget MarshallUniversity of Massachusetts Lowell.

Powerless people

Too much wealth might reflect sinful gains. His play depicts Abigail — who was, in real life, a girl of 11 — as a manipulative year-old carrying on an affair with a married man. Nothing in the historical record suggests an affair.

In Salem, 14 of the 19 people found guilty of and executed for witchcraft during that cataclysmic year of were women. Disborough remained imprisoned for almost a year until she was acquitted.

Recalling Eve and her sinful applePuritans also believed that women were more likely to be tempted by the Devil. As historian John Demos has establishedthe few Puritan men tried for witchcraft were mostly the husbands or brothers of alleged female witches. She was the wife of the wealthiest man in town and the mother of nine healthy children.

According to author Carol F. And even when men faced allegations of witchcraft, it was typically because they were somehow associated with accused women.