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The New England Colonial Period

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Published: Thu, 21 Sep 2017

Tony Calloway
Discussion Question

1. According to the article, “With All the Grace of the Sex,” were women active participants in colonial trade? How and why?

Women had to be active participants in a colonial trade. I mean most of these women, displayed a matter of filling empty holes in their lives. There were widowed spouses or empty professions within the community. The “With All The Grace of Sex” article addresses of all practice of manual trade being performed by women because not all wanted to sew or cook. Some had no choice but to do the labor of a profession those others saw as a man’s job. Those are jobs typically family responsibilities with everyone playing some duty within the trade. Many of the women did not need men to run the businesses. A lot of the women grew to be champions of these professions out of necessity.

The only way there was clear evidence that women did work in these occupations, were the occasional discovery of documentation that has been maintained showing these evidence. Furthermore, within this literature, we would notice how frequently women were becoming apprentices and masters of trades alongside their male counterparts. Granted; the manual labor associated with various occupations, it was a wonder the existence of women apprentice and masters that were in questioned. Men that use forges, hammers and leather working tools had put some the best men to the test. To have the stamina and physical courage these women needed to prove themselves was very impressive. Like my dad use to say “do not put tomorrow what can be done today.” After reading the article, it would seem that women had to do what they had to do. However, that is the binary of the way women have been for a since the beginning of time.

Lesson 3

1. The article, “Death’s Head, Cherub, Urn and Willow” and the images of the early American grave art give us insight to life during the New England colonial period. How had the views of religion and death changed over the time period, 1720 to 1820? How were these changes reflected on the gravestones? What specifically can historians learn about the Puritan from these stones

Jim Deetz & Edwin Dethlefsen (1960s-70s) – Are two archeologicalist that studied on New England gravestones Identification of 3 main motifs in period 1680-1820. These were the Winged Death’s Head 1680-1780, the Winged Cherub 1760-1800, and Urn & Willow 1770-1820. In the 17th and 18th century gravestones in Massachusetts were decorated with a traditional set of designs that have distinctive spatial and temporal limits. The pioneering gravestones in Boston’s burying grounds were simple, roughly cut greenstone markers. Individual headstones bared short or no beautifying carving and often had little inscriptions, which ordinarily had a person name, and they’re the date of death. The writings interruptive punctuation, were like a encrypted carving style with a characterized raised period separating the word. Treating them as if they were archaeological phenomena, one can demonstrate and test methods of inferring diffusion, dedication and the culture that carved it. The Early popularity of Death ‘s head design displayed the Puritans attitudes, and Urn Motifs indicated the breakdown of these values. While cherubs appear most premature among an urban innovation society in Cambridge, They remain a nearly insignificant type in this central area but are rapidly being embraced in outer districts further removed from the center of influence. Imperfect reproduction of distinct design gives rise to distinctive local styles of other districts. The delivery of these local forms in time and space presents further insights regarding the religious difference in the Colonial period, including a clear indication of how this change progressed in different geographical areas at different times.

The appearance that draws archeologists the most when it comes to Puritan headstones is the uniform appearance of the three types (Death’s Head, Cherub, Urn, and Willow). The Death’s Head representation was very common early on through the 17th century. It was a type that Puritans used to emphasize the mortality of man moreover. However, after the “Great Awakening” and the spread of the belief in an “immortal soul,” the Cherub became the more popular type. The Cherub image symbolized resurrection. During the 18th and 19th centuries, right after the revival of the Greek in America, the Urn and Willow grew to be a regularly used motif on tombstones. The quality of the monument was dependent upon two factors, the skill of the stonecutter and the budget of the family. In Boston, stonecutters were also masons, woodcarvers, bricklayers and even farmers carved gravestones as another way of sustaining their families. On numerous occasions, to save money and to deliver a high-quality headstone with fine art and speed, many of the Stonecutters made prefabricated headstones. This way all they would do was insert the name and date of the deceased upon placement of order. It wouldn’t take much to seek out this fantastic artwork that can be found in many places in New England to include Copp’s Hill in Boston the old Freedom Trail, and another favorite spot to Bostonians the Old Burying Point in Salem Massachusetts.

Grave markers and the burial grounds in which they are found have become identified as having historical importance, and they have familiarized their topics for research. The traditional cultures, a grave marker serves partly a function of commemoration as well as an indicator of status. To an archeologist, these markers serve as original recordings linking to the departed individual’s living as well as, a more comprehensive sense, to the society in which the individual lived and ultimately died. New Jersey can also provide some eighteenth-century grave markers like the ones in Monmouth County. These stones can give some insights into the developmental years of the colony. Although Monmouth County does share the timeline within many similarities of the colonial New England gravestone carving tradition, it also displays significant differences. Hereabouts, the choice of the gravestone in Monmouth County held related to personal inclinations within the broader trends before classified in New England. However, with the more inquisitive minds; studying gravestones can easily part into disciplines like a historical archaeology, or even like this class art history, even a genealogist when the training is more focused on the individual family. Particular scientific archaeological studies of colonial gravestones were sparked into motion by the outstanding research by James Deetz and Edwin Dethlefsen as before mentioned, who studied within the Boston Massachusetts area. Their conclusions presented a temporally linear course of iconographic designs used in the local carving tradition; starting with stark mortality symbols such as death’s heads, with more hopeful cherubs in the early eighteenth century, and then forming the more profane, neoclassical urn and willow tree designs.

Another type of style was the motif, which was used on Boston’s seventeenth-century grave markers dubbed the death’s head. Death’s head, often including wings and crossed bones, is a stylized skull that is used by today’s motorcycle gangs and gothic. Although folks were thinking that winged skulls been designed to symbolize physical death and spiritual regeneration this was not the case. It is essential to note that Boston-based Puritans were not advocates of using holy symbols, like cherubs, crosses in the place of meeting, of silver, or on their headstones. Puritans were adamantly opposed to connecting the human form to spiritual beings such as God, angels, or spirits.

The death’s head, which in it’s right, is a non-religious symbol and was the first description applied to gravestone carving. Additional decorative motifs following the death’s head were the hourglass with wings symbolizing the concept time flies, elaborately carved on the side panels along with florets, finials, foliage, fruit, and imp-and-dragon figures. The seventeenth and eighteenth-century headstones had solemn inscriptions that inspired passers-by to contemplate mortality and the temporary nature of life on earth.

There must have a broad range of the death’s head motif. The features and arrangement of the image depended uniquely on the preferred style of the carver. Those creating their style of carving like silversmiths, tanners, carpenters, and other artisans, gravestone carvers had specific techniques and skills. The style was almost like a calling card for some. Through inquiry research, newspaper and ads, announcements, signed or initialed stones, ledger books, and other original reference materials, twentieth-century historians were able to recognize many of these makers. As the immigrants began to reach a more stable lifestyle and acquire wealth, they were better able to afford more extravagant personal items whichever could serve as representations of their socioeconomic status. Individual belongings could have extended from a broader, more pretentious house; a cabinet full of silver plates imported from China to large lavishly engraved gravestones.

Lesson 3

Discussion Question

1. How did the Northern demography differ from that of the Southern colonies? Compare and contrast the social, economic, gender, and racial hierarchy of the New England and Southern Colonies.

During the mid-1700’s, there was an influx of immigrants migrating to America. During this time there was an abundance of food to go around, and that allowed for a generally good health of the majority of the colonist. By which it would allow more women to reproduce and share a low mortality rate, with the help ladies having several or more children during their life. With this expansion became the love of social class and hierarchy. The North school system celebrated and embraced social mobility, and the entrance of newly prosperous planters, commercial farmers, and retailers into the upper ranks was not only likely but also common. (Faragher 2012) While there was a well-established upper class in the Northern Colonies, there was also the scant and poverty-stricken lower class as well. It was composed of slaves, bound servants, and the poor laborers. This group made little less than half of the Northern colonies population, and their standard of living was just above minimum subsistence.

While both the Northern and the Southern colonies each had their hierarchy system, and they were similar in ways yet different in others. In Southern colonies, the standards needed for social status was racial purity. These ethnic pure Spanish colonists held the top of the social ladder. Spanish of mixed ancestry were in the middle and Indians, and African slaves were placed at the bottom. Though there was strife for nonwhites in the north, the separation of lines was obscured. The colonist had possibilities to move up or down the ladder at their will. Biracial Northern colonist experienced much more opportunity compared to their Southern counterparts. The Northern upper class was typically made up of landowners, merchants, and prosperous professionals. These upper class Northerners were living a much more lavish and extravagant life than the upper class Southern colonist.


Deetz, J., & Dethlefsen, E. S. (2007). Death’s Head, Cherub, Urn and Willow. Retrieved from

Faragher, J. M., Buhle, M. J., Czitrom, D., & Armitage, S. H. (2012). Out Of Many A History of the American People (6th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson.

Howe, J. (1998). Greek Revival. Retrieved from

Revolutionary Windsor. (n.d.).

Wooodard, D. D., & Doody, D. (). With All the Grace of the Sex. Retrieved from

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