This definitive work thoroughly explores, for the first time, the often complicated ways in which ethnicity and social rank interacted to determine the relationships that were forged among four categories of women in the Revolutionary and early National Lowcountry. Betty Wood analyzes the experiences of enslaved African and African American women, free women of color, elite women of European ancestry, and underclass women of European descent.Studying interactions between female slaves and free women of color, between plantation mistresses and their female slaves, and between the members of a "ladies" charitable society and the young "women" who received their help, Wood brings their diverse worlds to life, including colorful details of their work, religious practices, and even the hidden agendas in their social circles. She offers evidence of extensive family, racial, and social barriers to their awareness and development of a shared identity as women and concludes that although the boundaries between these groups were sometimes permeable, ties of gender seldom superseded considerations of social rank and ethnicity.
Betty Wood is a reader in American history at Girton College, University of Cambridge. Her books include "Gender, Race, and Rank in a Revolutionary Age," "Women's Work, Men's Work," "Slavery in Colonial America, 1619-1776," and "Georgia Women, Vol. 1" (all Georgia).