Ye Heart of a Man


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The Domestic Life of Men in Colonial New England

Lisa Wilson

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This fascinating book is the first to investigate the everyday lives of men in prerevolutionary 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.

Lisa Wilson tells wonderful stories of colonial New England men, addressing the challenges of youth, the responsibilities of adulthood, and the trials of aging. She finds that ideas about patriarchy or nineteenth-century notions of separate spheres for men and women fail to explain the world that these early New England men describe. Patriarchal power, although certainly real enough, was tempered by notions of obligation, duty, and affection. These men created their identities in a multigendered, domestic world. A man was defined by his usefulness in this domestic context; as part of an interdependent family, his goal was service to family and community, not the self-reliant independence of the next century’s “self-made” man.

Lisa Wilson is associate professor of history at Connecticut College.

“Gracefully written, novel in its scope, this book argues that the identity of colonial men, no less than women, centered around the domestic world.”—Jane Kamensky, Brandeis University

Ye Heart of a Man is an important contribution to the growing field of gender studies. It is very appropriate for use in undergraduate classes in American history or gender/women’s history.”—Kathryn Abbott, Western Kentucky University

"Lisa Wilson’s marvelous study will surprise and challenge anyone interested in the history of manhood in America. Wilson’s acute analysis of domestic masculinity opens out on worlds in which men found independence impossible and interdependence imperative, worlds we will be exploring on her inspiration for years to come."—Michael Zuckerman, professor of history, University of Pennsylvania

"Lisa Wilson’s marvelous study will surprise and challenge anyone interested in the history of manhood in America. Her early New Englanders did not seek personal autonomy, did not move in separate spheres, and did depend, vulnerably, on their family for their sense of identity and personal worth. Wilson’s acute analysis of this domestic masculinity opens out on world’s in which men found independence impossible and interdependence imperative, worlds we will be exploring on her inspiration for years to come."—Mike Zuckerman

“Wilson offers a look at the male in colonial America—everyday life in pre-Revolutionary America from the adolescent, into adulthood, and through the trials of aging. A man was defined in this period by his usefulness in the domestic sphere, and his goal was in service to family and community.”—Susan Stewart, Public Library Association

"Gender Studies of early America, particularly of Colonial New England . . . 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. . . . A refreshing and valuable perspective on early American society."—Choice

"Wilson’s clear, engaging writing is authoritative and free of doctrinaire cant. Recommended for all large academic and public libraries."—Library Journal

“Lisa Wilson has made a significant contribution in analyzing the domestic lives of colonial men; the men in her book speak to us about their worlds, including their feelings about work, their perceived usefulness (or lack thereof) in their occupations, their dilemmas over courtship and marriage, and their anxieties and hopes regarding the responsibilities of adulthood."—Elizabeth Reis, American Historical Review

“[Wilson’s] book offers up a number of wonderfully revealing, intimate glimpses into the daily lives and thoughts of men captured in a range of domestic activities and relationships.”—Helena M. Wall, William and Mary Quarterly

“Lisa Wilson’s work offers a unified point of view on masculinity, gender and family in the northern colonies. It shows as well a unified sensibility, one perhaps closer to Edmund S. Morgan’s as seen in his two books on family life in the colonies. Her new book represents a swing of the scholarly pendulum back toward common sense. . . . Delightful.”—Kenneth Lockridge, Journal of Social History

“This book is a delight to read, with a writing style that easily engages the audience. The reader at length closes these pages with a useful understanding of men’s expectations from this interesting period, and an extensive bibliography for further exploration. I highly recommend this book.”—New England Historical and Genealogical Register

“Any student of the colonial era should review Wilson’s book. Rigorously researched and carefully crafted, it is a model of a certain genre of diagnostic, biographically oriented social history.”—Kathryn Lofton, Religious Studies Review

Winner of the Homer D. Babbidge, Jr. Award given by the Association for the Study of Connecticut History

Selected as an outstanding book by University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries

The 2000 Phi Alpha Theta Book Award for the best "subsequent" book published by a member of the Phi Alpha Theta in the Field of History.
ISBN: 9780300085501
Publication Date: August 11, 2000
272 pages, 5 1/8 x 8 1/4