Martha Ballard’s Diary

4 April 2015
An examination of the book A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich which describes the life of women in this period in Northern New England.

This paper examines the lives of women in colonial America by studying this unique work which is written in diary form by a woman named Martha Ballard. The aim of the author of this book was to show historians that information about women in this period does exist, as they are often over-looked in history books. This paper shows how this book is a rich source of the personal and social struggles of women in this era.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s strips away the justification that historians often call on to validate their disregard of women’s lives in colonial America, which the essential documents do not exist. Perceptively creatively combing through household inventories, account book, court files, indentures, captivity recounting and men’s diaries. The author shows the complex richness and truth of women role and lets the modern reader listen to women voices from their oral traditions. Ulrich is immersed in the homely information of the colonial life. She shows a genuine appreciation of colonial society imparting the multiple contradictions of its patriarchal, hierarchical and common values, its religiosity and earthiness.

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Martha Ballard's Diary. (2015, Apr 23). Retrieved January 21, 2022, from
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