History 231 Reading Guide

New England in the Eighteenth Century

  • Christine Leigh Heyrman, “The Fashion Among More Superior People:  Charity and Social Change in Provincial New England, 1700-1740,” American Quarterly 34.2 (1982): 107-124.  JSTOR
  • Cornelia Hughes Dayton, “Taking the Trade:  Abortion and Gender Relations in an Eighteenth-Century New England Village” WMQ 3rd ser. 48.1 (1991): 19-49.  JSTOR


  • According to Heyrman, how did ministers present their appeal for philanthropy? How did they hope to redirect the economic interests of the elite?
  • What were their underlying concerns about the changing nature of society in the 18th century? How did the ministers attempt to shape the community role of the commercial classes?
  • What were the consequences—and the limits—of their efforts?
  • How does Dayton present the various actors in this family and community drama? What was the “traditional” way of handling a pre-marital pregnancy in Puritan New England society? Why did the couple not follow that path?
  • How did the families and the community respond to the tragic outcome? How does Dayton analyze their concerns and motives?
  • How did the court handle the case when the magistrates finally opened the investigation? Whose interests were they serving?
  • What does the case suggest about changing family, gender, and class relations in eighteenth-century Connecticut?