The Bonds of Womanhood

"Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835: Second Edition, with a new Preface

Nancy F. Cott

View Inside Price: $26.00


July 21, 1997
256 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300072983
Paper


This twentieth anniversary edition of Nancy F. Cott’s acclaimed study includes a new preface in which Cott assesses her own and other historian’s development of the concept of domesticity from the 1970s to the 1990s.



“Nancy Cott’s Bonds of Womanhood is not just a pioneer work in women’s history. It is a classic. Despite all the work published since, it is still an essential starting place for understanding New England in the early republic.”—Laurel Thatcher Ulrich



“Cott, still the best historian of women’s bonds and bondage, foresaw twenty years ago the tendency of domesticity’s bonds to lead both to feminism and the far right. An essential book for understanding today’s women.”—Carolyn Heilbrun



Reviews of the earlier edition:



“A lovely, gentle, scholarly, and valuable book.”—Doris Grumbach, New York Times Book Review



“Women’s history at its best.”—Phyllis Kriegel, New Directions for Women

Nancy F. Cott is Stanley Woodward Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University. She is also the author of A Woman Making History: Mary Ritter Beard Through Her Letters and The Grounding of Modern Feminism, published by Yale University Press.

“Nancy Cott’s Bonds of Womanhood is not just a pioneer work in women’s history. It is a classic. Despite all the work published since, it is still an essential starting place for understanding New England in the early republic.”—Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
 
 

“Cott, still the best historian of women’s bonds and bondage, foresaw twenty years ago the tendency of domesticity’s bonds to lead both to feminism and the far right. An essential book for understanding today’s women.”—Carolyn Heilbrun

“A lovely, gentle, scholarly, and valuable book.”—Doris Grumbach, New York Times Book Review

“Women’s history at its best.”—Phyllis Kriegel, New Directions for Women

"Still the best overview of the period."—Ruth Bloch, UCLA

"Essential for setting the context for the historiography. And, a great book."—Nina Silber, Boston University

"A classic text, essential reading to understand the 19th century historiography in women's history."—Gail Bederman, University of Notre Dame

"Clearly written, broadly conceived yet compact, The Bonds of Womanhood remains a commendable teaching text. The new preface raises issues of contemporary importance, bringing students up-to-date on the relevant literature and supplying stimulating material for classroom discussion. The emphasis on 'women's voices' offers access to Cott's primary sources, opening the text to new interpretations by today's undergraduates and historians alike. Twenty years after its initial publication, The Bonds of Womanhood richly rewards a fresh reading."—Anna R. Igra, Labor History

"An elegant and convincing study. . . . Better than any other work available, The Bonds of Womanhood describes both the classic attitudes of the nineteenth century toward women and the opposition to the oppression of women in the historical context from which they grew."—Willie Lee Rose, New York Review of Books

"Cott shows that the link between feminism and domesticity was the perception of the sisterhood of all women, implied by the ideology of "woman's sphere." For the student of American or women's history and the serious adult reader."—Library Journal (on an earlier edition)

"The Bonds of Womanhood is another welcome proof that the obituaries for intellectual history were premature, and it furnishes new evidence that intellectual history can be enormously enriched by allying with social history. Cott's work is empathic yet objective, drawing an extraordinary range of insights from the diaries and letters of one hundred New England women. It uses but transcends the best recent work in women's history as well as incorporating recent findings in modernization theory. It is a valuable contribution to American history in general."—Aileen S. Kraditor (on an earlier edition)

"Professor Cott's book marks a significant step forward in the literature of women's history. She has made systematic use of of personal documents . . ., and in so doing has made it possible to reach beyond the handful of privileged women and the precepts of the didactic literature to the perceptions and experiences of many different New England women. The picture which emerges is more complex than our previous data had been able to support. There is a great deal of food for thought in this book, and many leads for further research. I hope this book will be widely read and pondered."—Anne Firor Scott (on an earlier edition)

"Cott has written an excellent, short introduction to the changing perceptions of women by themselves and others during the transition period of the early republic. The book is organized as five essays describing the different spheres of women's lives: work, domesticity, education, religion, and sisterhood. Each stands on its own right, and together they form a cohesive interpretation."—Choice (on an earlier edition)

"[This is an] important work, [a] useful tool for teaching women's history, and rewarding reading for all who seek to integrate women's and men's spheres into a common heritage."—Marilyn J. Boxer, Contemporary Sociology (on an earlier edition)

"This is a delightful social history of New England women at a critical time in history. . . . The Bonds of Womanhood is sure to end up on the reading list for many a history or women's studies course, but scholars and casual readers alike will appreciate Cott's command of detail, imaginative interpretation, and lucid style. A sophisticated, readable, and thoroughly enjoyable book."—Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide (on an earlier edition)

"Cott's monograph is informative and stimulating. No one interested in women's history, family history, or any other variant of the new social history will be able to ignore it."—Edward Shorter, William and Mary Quarterly (on an earlier edition)

"At last, historians of women are reaching some definitive position on the nature of women's life in the nineteenth century. To this end, Nancy F. Cott has made a welcome . . . addition. The chief virtue of this work is the research which the author has carried out in extant archival materials like diaries and letters of ordinary women. This has enabled her to provide a more complete picture of the life of the average middle-class woman in New England between 1780 and 1835."—Lois W. Banner, The Journal of American History (on an earlier edition)

"A penetrating analysis of the way in which that cult became a foil for and even an underpinning of emergent feminism."—Linda M. Maloney, History (on an earlier edition)

"This is a thoughtful, scholarly, and well-written study of the early Republic, which touches on broad themes in social and economic history, well beyond the limits of narrowly defined women's history. . . . [This] is a most valuable contribution to the work on the culture and society of American women within the framework of American society. . . . This well-researched monograph is a needed addition to the social history of this critical period."—Barbara Welter, The American Historical Review (on an earlier edition)

"Cott's gracefully written and authoritative synthesis of the status and lives of middle-class women will prove indispensable for the student of the period, especially because of its respectful attention to what women said and thought about their lives. It should be required reading."—Gerda Lerner, Signs (on an earlier edition)