Relations between women in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Essay by Carolyn VertovecUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 1997

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Relations between women in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Thesis: Relationships between women in the nineteenth century America created a web of love and support for women. Mothers and daughters, sisters and friends from childhood formed emotional and sometimes physical bonds that lasted lifetimes. These ties were acknowledged and easily accepted in their societies. Many women survived unthinkable hardships such as geographical isolation, child birth, and loss of children because of the unconditional love found in their relations with other women.

I. Introduction

A. Female friendship of 19th century not really studied before

B. Abundance of evidence suggests very strong emotional ties between women.

C. All types of relationships are suggested from

sisterly love to passion

D. In this world men are hardly noted

II. Defining and analyzing these relations

A. Question of method and interpretation

B. How to view same sex relations


2.dichotomy between normal and abnormal

C. Viewing within a cultural and social setting

D. Based on the diaries of women from 35 families

from 1760s to 1880s

1.Represents brood range of women

2.Middle class

III. Sensual and platonic

A. Sarah Butler Wister and Jeannie Field Musgrove

1. Met while families vacationed; spent 2 years

together at boarding school

2. throughout life wrote to eachother talking of

their deep affection and their anguish when apart

3. Marriage brought physical separation but nor


4. Made references that may imply a relationship

that is not necessarily platonic

5. Friendship lasted their entire lives

B. Molly and Helena

1. Met at boarding school

2. Formed friendship similar to that of Sarah and


3. many references to a physical relation

4. marriage brought depression and changes because

of now having male lovers.

5. Molly tells Helena she loves her as "wives do

love their husbands"...