History 231 Reading Guide

New England Emigration:  Puritan ideals and English motives

  • Virginia Dejohn Anderson, “Migrants and Motives:  Religion and the Settlement of New England, 1630-1640,” New England Quarterly, 58.3 (1985): 339-383.  JSTOR
  • Richard Archer, “New England Mosaic:  A Demographic Analysis for the Seventeenth Century,” WMQ 3rd ser. 47.4 (1990): 477-502.  JSTOR


Note:  The articles by Anderson and Archer offer contrasting demographic analyses of the English Puritan migrants to New England, which lead to conflicting analyses both of the character and motives of the migrants and of the communities that they created in the seventeenth century.

  • How does Anderson characterize the historiographical debate over motives, both during the era of settlement and in recent scholarship?  What does she challenge about the debate?
  • On which characteristics of the early migrants does Anderson focus? What does she conclude about this early group of English Puritan migrants, both among themselves and in contrast to early Chesapeake migration?
  • According to Anderson, what effect did their particular demographic characteristics have on the communities that they created?
  • With respect to their motives, how does she set up her examination within the context of their particular demographic characteristics?
  • What does she argue about the “economic causes of migration that recent scholars have posited?
  • What patterns in the demographic characteristics of English migrants and their children does Archer emphasize in the New England “mosaic” that he describes?
  • According to Archer, how did the character and motives of the migrating population (and their children’the second generation) affect both the structure and the nature of New England communities in the seventeenth century?
  • How does Archer characterize Anderson’s interpretation? What is at stake in this debate?