To Honor their Worth, Beauty and Accomplishments: Women in Early American-Anglo Shipwreck Accounts.

Amy Mitchell-Cook

Abstract


According to traditional scholarship women rarely went to sea. Nineteenth-century concepts of separate spheres supposedly kept women tied to home and family while men explored the vast oceans. Women, however, did go to sea but researchers have few sources to understand their place in the Atlantic World. One area, often overlooked in examining women at sea is the shipwreck narrative. Within these short accounts of shipwreck, researchers can begin to understand these women as well as the ways in which society understood meanings of class and gender. Even though women’s roles were usually minor and always secondary to the main events, women protected the children and themselves, and prayed to God for mercy and divine guidance. Female passengers remained pious and obedient as they waited for men to decide the best course for survival. Although most women perished in the accounts, their reputations continued and they became models for female readers by validating idealized feminine behavior

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