Receipt for money received from Samuel Balwin for the Female Academy, 1808

Women in the First American West participated in life on the frontier in a number of ways. Like men on the frontier, the women's experience was based entirely upon their socio-economic status, and whether or not they were free or enslaved. While there are numerous roles women played on the frontier, it is important to note that our collection represents a small fraction of those, documenting the experiences of predominantly white women of upper-class or wealthy families. This is important to note because while they did not share the same freedoms as their male counterparts, they did have more autonomy than women from laboring or enslaved families. 

In a world marked heavily by violence and economic insecurity, women not only contributed to the homestead but even labored on farms when necessary. They manufactured textiles and clothing, helped run family businesses, took care of the children, processed food, and more.

In this section, there are letters documenting a young woman's life and experiences on the frontier without her parents (Mary Ann Corlis), a woman taking over her deceased husband's salt business to ensure a comfortable future for her son (Annie Christian), Hannah Glasse's published cookbook, correspondence referring to paid labor by a women (Fanny), a series of letters from Rebecca Stoddert documenting her social life on the frontier, and several documents related to enslaved women.