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Contributed by Jason Freitag on 11/09/2009
Vivian Bruce Conger, History, has published "'There Is Graite Odds between A Mans being At Home And A Broad': Deborah Read Franklin and the Eighteenth-Century Home" in the journal Gender and History, Volume 21, Issue 3, 2009, pp. 592-607.
From 1764 to her death in 1774, Deborah Franklin lived in 'their' new house without husband Benjamin. The correspondence between them reveals several ambiguously gendered constructions of that house – ideologically, materially, and architecturally. Deborah was 'homeless' legally and conceptually. Her household variously consisted of her mother, her adopted son, her daughter, relatives, guests, boarders and servants – she permanently assumed the role of head of the household. His household consisted of his landlady, Widow Margaret Stevenson, and her daughter Polly – he could not assume his role as head of household. Moreover, as Deborah wrote to her husband about turning the house into a fortress during a raid on it during Stamp Act crisis, he wrote to her about the household goods; as she talked about politics, he discussed familial matters. Their permeable, even ambiguous, masculine and feminine roles reconstructed the meaning – and thereby symbolised the gendered complexity – of the early American white middling and elite eighteenth-century home.
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