Carefully crafted from oral interviews, diaries, letters, written recollections, census data, and other historical sources, Obligation and Opportunity opens a window into the world of the women who moved from the Maritimes to New England for work. Urged to stay through tales of danger and woe in the newspapers, they still left by the thousands, and in numbers larger than those for men. Beattie examines the rural families they left, the urban environment they entered in Boston, and the different occupations they filled. She sheds new light on the response of rural families to economic change and the effects of gender on choices for young women. She demonstrates that first-generation emigrants, who left out of a need to find work and send money back home, eased the way for second-generation emigrants, who left to seek opportunities in the big city. Obligation and Opportunity offers new insights not only for everyone interested in the history of the Maritimes and Boston but also for scholars and others interested in family history, women's studies, labour history, and migration studies.