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Historian Vivian Bruce Conger presented chapter at SHEAR Writing Biography Workshop

Contributed by Pearl Ponce on 09/15/19 

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Conger, Professor of History, was one of 25 scholars chosen to participate in the First SHEAR Biography Writers’ Workshop. This all-day workshop was held on Thursday, July 18, 2019, and was a part of the 41stAnnual Meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, Cambridge, MA, July 18-21, 2019.

The morning session was devoted to a discussion of scholarly approaches to writing historical biography. The afternoon session was dedicated to breakout working groups that read pre-circulated chapters and which offered feedback on each other’s projects.  Conger presented “The Intergenerational Economic Worlds of Deborah Read Franklin and Sally Franklin Bache,” a chapter from her current full-length book project. Conger’s paper explores the fluid gendered contributions the Franklin women made to their family economies, women’s control of household resources, and the extent and meaning of women’s consumer activities locally and in a transatlantic world of commerce.  She ultimately argues that in different ways for the two generations, upheavals of the eighteenth century presented the women with opportunities to expand on extra-household production, to make crucial decisions, and to control as best they could their families’ well-being. Deborah and Sally reflect a change from “an urban, craft-based artisan economy to a cash-based, wage-labor urban economy,” that is, from traditional shopkeepers’ helpmate to women “firmly ensconced in a domestic environment as wives and mothers.”

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