Domesticating Revolution: Founding Women, Material Culture, and Politics at Home
Convenes 5:30-7:00 p.m. on March 11, March 25, and April 22, 2020
In 1781, a British newspaper reported that a British officer stationed in the United States “told Lord Cornwallis …that he believed if he had destroyed all the men in North-America, we should have enough to do to conquer the women.” The fierce patriotism of American women was noted on both sides of the Atlantic in the revolutionary era, but has received far less attention in histories of the war told after the conflict ended.
Led by Dr. Zara Anishanslin (Associate Professor of History and Art History and Director, History of American Civilization Program, University of Delaware), this material- and visual culture-centric seminar series fills that historical gap, using Library Company’s collections to look at how Philadelphia women used their homes–and the things in those domestic spaces–to create revolutionary fervor and shape founding era politics from the mid-1760s through the 1790s. During and after the American Revolution, Patriot women from North to South used material culture to domesticate revolution. They used things–things they bought, things they made, and the architectural spaces of their homes–first to wage, and then to come to terms with waging, the war. American women made and used objects to “domesticate” the war in multiple senses: to bring battle into the home and home into battle, to make something public and communal private and intimate, to create an American political culture, to produce and consume goods related to the Revolution in the American marketplace, and, eventually, to tame memories of a violent Patriot.