History 248 Reading Guide

Puritan Families and Well-Ordered Communities

  • John Demos, A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony (1970; 2nd edition 2000).


  • How does Demos structure his account? What is the significance of the particular sequence of his presentation?
  • What kind of evidence does he use and analyze? What do his sources reveal, and what do they obscure? Which evidence do you find most, and least, persuasive?
  • Toward what kind of argument about change in family life is he building?
  • What do you make of the minimal emphasis on change in his account?
  • What does this book tell us about the historical profession in 1970?