History 231 Reading Guide

The Chesapeake Bay:  The instability of a tobacco society

  • Lois Green Carr, “Emigration and the Standard of Living:  The Seventeenth Century Chesapeake,” Journal of Economic History 52.2 (1992): 271-291.  JSTOR
  • Lois Green Carr and Lorena S. Walsh, “The Planter’s Wife:  The Experience of White Women in 17th-century Maryland,” WMQ 3rd ser. 34.4 (1977): 542-571.  JSTOR


  • Why did certain English folk choose to emigrate to the colonies, and why did they come to the Chesapeake Bay?  What did they gain and what did they lose?
  • What questions does Carr ask about emigration, and what econometric measures does she use to answer them?
  • What does she conclude about relative costs and benefits?
  • According to Carr and Walsh, who were the women who first emigrated to Maryland?
  • How do Carr and Walsh characterize the opportunities and options for women in the Chesapeake?
  • How did the initial “disruption” of patriarchal society in the Chesapeake impact both women’s opportunities and the “social order” more broadly?  How long term was this consequence?