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tv   Penelope Winslow 17th Century Plymouth Colony  CSPAN  April 16, 2021 2:39am-3:37am EDT

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this evening really explore the life of plymouth colony first lady penelope pelham winslow a woman of influence during the eventful years of plymouth's existence through wartime and the end of its independence. our speaker tonight is michelle
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marchetti coughlin. she is the author of one colonial woman's world the life and writing of health chandler coit and the book she'll be speaking on tonight penelope winslowe plymouth colony's first lady re-imagining a life. she recently served as the guest curator for our pilgrim hall museums exhibition path founders women of plymouth and as a mass humanity scholar on a woman suffrage commemoration project with the falmouth museum on the green she serves on the board of the happy adam's birthplace and as amazing and administrator of boston gibson house museum without further ado, please join me and welcoming michelle to speak this evening. thank you, very much gavin catherine and sarah for arranging this talk and i want to say thank you very much the massachusetts historical society for this wonderful opportunity. i have been using mhs's resources for years and their
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collections their exhibitions their programs and their staff are outstanding. so, thank you mhs. so tonight i am talking about penelope winslow and i as historic as a historian study early american women. because i really feel they've been significantly underrepresented in the telling of america's story. if we're not hearing about how half the population laid the foundations for the help lay the foundations for this country were really not getting a full or an accurate picture of america's past. so when i first learned about penelope winslow several years ago, i was surprised that she wasn't better known as a member of the english gentry and wife to plymouth colony governor josiah winslow. she was arguably one of the most powerful women in plymouth history. and plymouth colony just as a quick refresher was founded in 1620 when the pilgrims arrived and lasted until 1692 when it
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was absorbed by massachusetts bay. so the reason penelope isn't better known is that it's only been fairly recently that historians have started studying women because their biologers are experiences didn't take place in the public realm and historians really didn't think that that their experiences were worthy of studying until the past few decades. but also penelope like penalty like most of her contemporaries didn't believe didn't leave behind much in the way of personal writings. unlike mehatable chandler coit the subject of my first book. there's no diary to mine for details of penelope's life. but she does appear in the archival records and she did leave behind a trove of what is generally referred to as material culture basically anything made or used by people and in penalty's case these items range from a surviving
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homes to a personal possessions to archaeological artifacts and when combined with the written sources they really help shed light not only on penelope's life but on lives of other women of the time and on the development of new england so i'm going to start by giving you a brief biography of penelope. she was born in 1633 in a village called viewers about 70 miles outside of london. and as i mentioned she was a member of the english gentry her father herbert pelham was descended from various monarchs. and in fact penelope's third great grandmother was mary belen whom you may have heard referred to as the other bullen girl penelope's mother was to mind the wall to grave in the wall degree has been involved in british politics for centuries and in the colonies among penelope's distinguished relatives in the colonies included the baron de la lawar after whom delaware was named early governors of virginia and
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leading settlers of massachusetts bay, and these connections were very important to her and they really helped her form as her sense of her in the world. and so we're going to start by showing you some of penelope's family homes. small bridge hall. this is her maternal grandparents home. it's located near her birthplace farriers, which i'll show you in a minute, but you can see it's a very grand estate has the moat in. the deer park smallbridge is actually smaller than it used to be used to be a much larger building queen elizabeth the first state there in 1561. my husband and i were fortunate enough to visit these homes several years ago and coincidentally at the time both farriers in small bridge were undergoing renovation. so the rooms are really stripped of furnishings and you could get a good idea. oh, michelle, sorry to interrupt but i think your powerpoint if
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you could put it into presenter mode, and we're still on the first slide. oh you are. yeah, that's it from the beginning on the top. okay. sorry about this. yeah with me please. how about it? let's say so i'm sorry about this. actually i'm noticing that your cursor on the screen doesn't seem to be moving oh there we go we're all set thank you okay can you see the second queen elizabeth's room yes okay great sorry about that this is my only my second virtual talk so thank you for bearing with the technical difficulties so as i was saying both small bridge and farriers were undergoing renovation at the time that we visited so they're really stripped of a lot of their furnishings you can really get an idea of what the worms may have looked like during
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penelope's time now this is farriers so this is penelope's birth place in obviously it's not as grand as small bridge but it was absolutely absolutely an impressive dwelling for the time period in this picture is misleading it doesn't show how far yours extends quite far back it is a very large building this is a painting of barriers done is recently as the 60s and it shows just the surrounding landscape. so for penalty growing up there as far as the eye could see was land owned by her family. and these are just some early architectural features of farriers. and this is a minorial courthouse that's on the property. so farriers was brought to the marriage by jemima wall degree by penelope's mother and her ancestors had used this as a courthouse to settle local grievances and penelope's father herbert pelham was a local justice of the peace so he probably used it as well.
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and so the whole farriers complex really was a site that would have reinforced penalty sent sense of social economic and political importance. but when she was five years old her father decided to uproot the family and move to massachusetts. he was actually a merchant invest in merchant adventurer investor in massachusetts bay and so canopy her four siblings and her father moved and settled in cambridge. unfortunately, her mother appears to have died on the journey. however, the family was quite successful in cambridge, which was a leading a leading center of massachusetts at the time harvard college had recently been founded in herbert pelham early on acquired land and he grows very quickly through the government and he also became harvard's first treasurer. however, within a few years he decided he needed to go back to
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england to settle some property disputes arriving over inheritance issues. so the whole family accompanied him with the exception of nathaniel and her brother with nathaniel penelope's older brother who's going to remain behind to attend harvard and penelope herself, and it's not clear why she at the age of 13 did not accompany her family back to england, but later in occasions are that she may not have had the best relationship with her stepmother who herbert had married shortly after arriving in cambridge. and so we do know though that she probably at this time moved in with her her father's sister another penelope and her husband richard bellingham, who is a leading citizen of boston. he would serve as government governor for several terms and the bellingham's home or their mansion house was located on tremont street. near where king's chapel is
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today. so living there would have exposed penelope to a host of people and ideas that exponentially broadened her world. we're not sure what her education consisted of but it would have been overseen by her aunt and it was obviously a very good education as later records testify. we do know that at some point she met josiah winslow here on the left became engaged to him. this may have been through her brother nathaniel as josiah attended harvard. he didn't graduate. he was older than nathaniel, but that may have been one connection. also herbert pelham and edward winslow on the right were well known to each other so edward winslow as we know was the pilgrim who came on the mayflower he served as governor of plymouth colony and he's holding this wonderful letter here. you can't really make out much of the writing with the exception of signature, which says from your loving wife
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susanna and this is susanna white winslow. oh his fellow mayflower passenger both edward and susanna were married to other people on the on the mayflower voyage of their spouses died the first winter and their wedding became the first wedding that took place in plymouth colony and they had josiah here. as well as a daughter. so i want to talk to you for a minute about religion. so to broadly simplify. we know that massachusetts bay was settled by people whom we call the puritans. they wanted to purify the church of england. and plymouth colony was settled by separatists who wanted to separate from the church of england both groups were reformed protestants who had a lot of common viewpoints. basically, they thought that individuals should have a direct relationship with god is mediated through scripture. and when we think of puritans
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and pilgrims, you know, we have these lingering stereotypes of them as being very sober serious people and when we take a look at these portraits, they would seem to confirm our ideas. however, we need to take a closer look so we see josiah and edward wearing black and we think that's because it's a, you know, serious sober color. however black was very fashionable at the time this these portraits were done with 1651 we know by the date on edwards letter, but we don't know who the artist was. so black was very fashionable. and also we they are distinguishing themselves dressing up their outfits with these white starch white collars edward has the white cuffs. they're both have gold tassels and edward has the gold buttons and so at this time social status was extremely important in the social hierarchy and in fact, there were assumptuary was on the books in england and new
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england. preventing or prohibiting people from dressing above their station. so in these portraits josiah and edward are clearly trying to make a statement about their wealth and social status. and then i want to take a closer look at penelope's portrait. so as i said, these are painted in 1651 at the time the english civil war was just coming to an end. two years previously king charles. the first had been executed by followers of all over cromwell a puritan in the parliamentarian forces. and so the winslow's and the pelhams were absolutely supporters of the puritans and cromwell. and yet we see penelope here and she is dressed very similarly to the wife in the daughter of king charles the first so on the left is queen henrietta maria and we see the fabrics that penelope's
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wearing are very similar to to those worn by henrietta maria and also princess mary stewart charles's daughter on the right of penelope properties gold choker necklace her her hairstyle and her hood are very similar to mary stewart's so she's clearly aligning herself here with the uppermost echelons of society. so these portraits were shipped back to plymouth colony and they to marshfield were the winslow's homes were and they were maintained by the family for generations until the late 1800s when they were donated to pilgrim haw museum. you may be familiar with pelham hall museum and has the preeminent collection of pilgrim possessions. in pilgrim home museum also has many other willy winslow possessions including several which are associated with penelope and the most iconic of
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these is this shoe so this was formerly a salmon pink color. you can see has very elaborate silver lace on it and the story that came down with the shoe was that it was worn by penelope at her wedding and then it was worn by subsequent family brides until it was donated to pilgrim hall in the 19th century. and so the two shoes the were two shoes and they became separated in the 19th century and a stir was caused as recently as the 1990s when the owner of descendant owner of the second shoe found out the existence of this one at pilgrim hall in a range for both shoes to be shown together. but recently interpretation of the shoes has shifted dramatically with the revelation that they were actually made for a man. they weren't worn by penelope at her wedding. they were likely josiah's fancy indoor slippers. so when i first started research
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and penelope, i happen to have a conversation with who the then curator of pilgrim palm museum steven o'neil. and he mentioned to me that a british footwear historian had been to the museum and happened to mention that she thought that the shoe at pelham hall was actually a man's shoe. so, of course i had to follow up on that and so i obtained the opinions of three fashion historic fashion experts on the shoe and they all concurred that this was made the shoes made in the mid 1600s for a man. so this is you know, there's a lesson here for us that we have to be very careful about bringing contemporary gender ideas about contemporary ideas about gender to historical artifacts. and if this story's also emblematic of a larger theme in penelope story with the study of
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early american women that new pieces of information are continually cropping up and you sources of information. so we just it's an ongoing story which makes it exciting but knowing this story about the shoe that meant that i had to really check up on every item that i looked at and of course, this is not a derogatory comment on pilgrim hall all i do a fabulous job. they're constantly researching their their possessions the collections, but you know, they their collection is so vast in so many of the things we're given to them such a long time ago. these i just want to show you on the left here. these are some not as is marinade as the other slippers, but they are we're formally salmon pink and just again made for a man and then ironically the winslow shoe at pilgrim hall is displayed close to these baby shoes that were worn by josiah. so on the left here we have a
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purse that penelope is supposed to have made on a c voyage and the you know checked out the date of this purse in fashion experts historic fashion experts confirmed that the date was good it coincided with penelope's lifetime. but of course, we don't know for sure whether she made it on a voyage and they turn right is what's called a bodkin it's a silver blunt edged needle. it has the initials pw on it. it did to send through the family. so odds are that it was penelope's now, this is a very intimate item because penelope would have used it to lace up her clothing and also it made me think of penelope as a mother because at the time there weren't maternity clothes when we just, you know, take in their clothes or let them out when they were pregnant. penelope didn't have an easy time having children her first surviving child a daughter named elizabeth was born in 1664 so
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around years after the time of her marriage and her only other survive surviving child a son named isaac was born in 1671. so 20 years following her marriage. no, we're very fortunate in that archeology archaeological excavations have been done at the site of penelope in josiah's home. so following their marriage, and we're not sure if they were married in new england or in london, but they do return to marshfield where edward and susanna winslow had lived and so they can help me just i originally moved in with susanna edward is in london. he goes over in 1646. he becomes involved in cromwell's government. he never returns to new england. he dies on his while he's on his military mission. he dies at sea while he's on this military mission on behalf of cromwell and so in 1665
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josiah inherits the bulk of the estate at some point he built the house for himself and penelope, which is located nearby. so originally this the first archaeological excavation down at the site was done in 1940 by henry hornblower who went on to phone plymouth plantation. and we can look at this plan. that was done by later archaeologists and we see that the house has a typical layout for the time except. it's much larger. it's a grander home, but it has this hall that was common in the 17th century just it's a bigger room where daily life took place and then we also have the parlor. it's more formal room where not only entertaining is done, but also business is conducted. so at this time we don't have the form the distinction between formal. i'm sorry the formalistic student between public and private that we do now houses
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were public sites men. we're conducting businesses from their home. and so there's a term deputy has been where the it's an acknowledgment of women's familiarity with their husbands business. so men would recognize that if a man was not around to conduct business his wife could in his stead because you know women were so cognizant of what was going on in the home and so the business that was going on at home and so in josiah's case he's not only conducting his own commercial enterprises but he is also very active in plymouth government so from the 1650s online he becomes active and he also becomes a successor to miles standish as military leader of plymouth colony and he eventually becomes governor in 1673 and so we have to think of penelope's role. so a lot of his government business is taking place from the home.
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and so she you know, so just i is traveling a lot on business so she has this role as a gatekeeper, so she has acknowledged influence men will come to the house, you know seeking to talk to josiah. they know she can mediate access to him. she can mediate messages that are given to him. so she has a lot of power in this respect. um, also this is something that we think about but there are women coming to the house, you know seeking favors and opportunities on their husband's behalf. so there's this other whole community of women that's interacting and they're having an effect on the larger government in even though it's an indirect wine and it's just something we should take into consideration. so as i said pilgrim hall has a lot of family possessions a kind of round out this i this picture that we get of the winslows and their social and their economic status. so this is a great chair.
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that's at pilgrim hall. it would have had a cushion we can see josiah, you know perched on it being very authoritative conducting his government business. i'm showing this delft plate here because it speaks to a larger theme so we have this another enduring stereotype of plymouth. colony is being kind of backwards and insular not connected to the outside world, and that's not the case at all. there was a lot of trade trent atlanta trade going on and you can see it. it's something like this find plate dutch plate. that was at the winslow's house, but also in archaeological artifacts that are found not just in high ranking homes or in the remains of high ranking homes, but in in lower much more simple people much more simple in lower economic backgrounds. archaeologists have found you know, obviously not find ceramics but ceramics that have
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definitely been imported and i'm showing you here this this is a very iconic item to this peregrine white cradle. so this is supposed to have been brought over on the mayflower by susanna white winslow. she was one of the three women who were pregnant on the voyage she gave birth to peregrine the first english child born in new england and this cradle passed down through the winslow family and so may have been used by penelope. these are just some of the the vast collection of archaeological artifacts from the windsor site. now, these are in the collections of plymouth plantation it which is now it's recently changed its name to plymouth patxa to acknowledge the long native influence in the area or long, you know, long native history. and so we have these items in the archeology that kind of round out the information that we get from the surviving possessions and the portraits so kind of connecting penelope to
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fashion and the ability. she may have had us need a woman need a woman we have this fine bone needle pace which actually still found by arcade archaeologists still containing pins. we have scissors here. and of course these items date from the time of penelope's residence at the house. we can't be 100% sure where they were hers, but some of them very likely were then this strange item in the middle speaks to her. wearing of high of high status clothing because it's a called a golf ring specifically used to iron ruffles. and over here, we have a knife and there are numerous knives and spoons found on the property. no forks because they were not widely used in the colonies yet, but also archaeologists have even identified the bones that animal bones found on the property. so we have an idea of what the wins those diet was like, you know, so these great insights we can get when we combine the
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written record and the archaeological record and so on they favorite like good english people, they fever beef and poor. and these are just some items that give insight into child life. so this is a silver whistle. it has the initials ew engraved on it. perhaps it belong to penelope endosiah's daughter elizabeth and then we have a marvel. now what's also wonderful about the site? is that there are there's a host of native artifacts. so there are some of these artifacts are thousands of years old showing the long native presence in the area, and these are so helpful to have because the native presence in the written records is often very biased because it's being written by the colonists. so this is looking at native archeology is just another way to get insights into their culture and history but we also have artifacts that speak to a
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history of cross-cultural exchange. so the items on top are pieces of metal that we're taking from kettles that were used in trade with the colonists. so the columnist would trade brass and copper kettles within natives and they just would sometimes take the kettles apart and repurpose the metal to be used for projectile points or virtualory and then down here on the bottom, right we have spoon and this is a great spoon because you can tell the user had been right-handed because it has this pattern of wear on the left. it's also interesting item because it's called a seal top spoon. so it was used not only for eating but for sealing for respondents and then above it we have just a spoon handle. so the bowl has been removed by a native person and the handle has been sharpened to a point to be used as some sort of tool. and then also we have in the these archaeological sites native pottery showing that the colonists are using native
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pottery. so there is this history of exchange of technologies and information. that's really illuminating when you look at early plymouth and archaeologists are continuing to work on this it's we're finding new information all the time. so when we speak of the native peoples we have to talk about the winslow families and plymouth colony in new england a very complex relationship with native people so we know about the fabled friendship that edward winslow had with the native person we native leader we know as massasoit that's how it actually just means great leader his name was osunique when but so winslow not only had personal relationships with native people but he was interested in their customs and their language you try to learn their languages josiah did not have the same interest you didn't have the same personal interest and he also didn't have
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the same diplomatic skills and of course by this time this is the second generation of prudence settlement so the communities are growing encroachment on native lands as growing there's pressure on native people to convert to christianity a and so all of these tensions eventually erupt into what's known as king philip's war in 1675 and this is a really devastating conflict. and this was the signature event of josiah's governorship. it breaks out in 1675 and ends in 1676, and there's just great destruction on both sides. there are two events leading up to king philip's war the historians often point two is being pivotal as to its outbreak. and penelope was a participant in both events. although this her presence at these events is often overlooked. it's almost always overlooked.
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so the first event takes place in 1662 before josiah was governor. he's at when as a military leader. he was sent by the plymouth government to go. bring one sitta who's also known as alexander he is massasoitsamicuin's son necessor usa mequon has has died by this point and so once soda alexander is the sagem of the wampanoag so josiah is tend to bring one surah to plymouth to answer charges that he has sold land contrary to the terms of a treaty and also that he's conspiring with the narragansetts against the colonists so josiah finds what i'm sorry he's with his wife widumu who is also a satan and there with a group of their family and so it's decided that lump soda and we don't in their family will spend the night at penelope and josiah's house before going on to plymouth and so this is just such a
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fascinating scenario to consider from penelope's perspective. but also at this time there were these very important rituals of hospitality among the upper classes. so i just wondered did penelope extend the same level of hospitality to wampsoda in me to move that she would have to her other to her high ranking english guests. i hope she did but also just thinking about power and so penelope had a lot of informal power and plymouth, but we do move was the acknowledged leader of her people in in penalty wouldn't with her eurocentric viewpoint wouldn't have acknowledged that or recognized that so but it was the case and the larger scheme of things. so just so important to consider. so unfortunately things don't go well with the the visit because while i'm sort of becomes ill desires stands for the local physician who may have
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unfortunately actually harmed one soda instead of helped him. it's decided once it needs to go home and he'll return it another time to answer these charges to go to plymouth. he gets home and unfortunately, he dies soon afterwards and it's believed by his brother metacom. also known as philip who who become the next sagem of the wampanag and also by lumpster's wife we to move that while i'm sitta has been poisoned. they believe he's been poisoned either by the doctor or by josiah. so then fast forwarding to late 1774 when josiah is governor. and a native christian minister harvard education harvard educated christian minister named john sassaman who is ties both philip and the colonists. arise at josiah and penelope's home to warn josiah about phillips plans to attack. and so we could just imagine,
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you know cannot be possibly answering the door possibly, you know serving him refreshments, but absolutely discussing the nature of his visit with her husband with josiah afterwards in light of what happens as a result. so john sassman tries to warn josiah josiah has received similar warmings that haven't come to fruition so he doesn't believe john sassaman. even though john's houseman says i fear for my life coming here. and so he leaves a few weeks later. his body is found and it's believed by the colonists that he's been murdered by agents of philip and shortly thereafter three native men with ties to philip. our arrested imprisoned tried and executed in not long afterwards king philip's war breaks out. so josiah knowing that philip has this personal animosity towards him writes this letter
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to massachusetts bay governor john leverett, and this is very dramatic letter and he says i've sent away my family so he decides that penelope in their 11 year old daughter elizabeth and four year old son isaac or not safe at the house. so now being her children go stay with his sister up in salem and like many people on sides become more refugees. just i write this letter saying i fortified my home and i will fold it as long as a man will stand by me. and so with chilling is that the testimony of the landscape of the home site bears this out because there are post holes that show that the site had in fact been fortified. there are numerous pipes stems dating from this time period that we're very likely left by the soldiers on guard. there are bullets there are
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pieces of guns armor. there's also, you know josiah with his pension for our high style. there are high style of you know, bridal bits in about belt buckles that he would have used for, you know his straps for guns. so it's just so fascinating how you can get this other layer of insight from looking at archeology in combination with the written records. so king philip's work comes to a close the following year in 1676 and it has had a devastating impact on plymouth. there's been great loss of life great loss of property it takes years for them to recover financially, but for the native people's the consequences are just that much more dire. there's loss of traditional homelands communities are just our broken up as our families and many names are sold into
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slavery and things are never the same for the native people. so it has it's watershed moment. and so in the wake of king phelps war penalty returns home and she uses her personal connections to try and help josiah repair his relationship with king charles ii who has taken who's been on the throne since 1660 king charles wants to know why this terrible conflict broke out. so josiah writes this report and he also, ranges to send philip who has been killed during the war his military regalia to king charles now this is not an accurate depiction of philip this was done 100 years later by paul revere but it shows this fabulous wampum belt and so among this military regalia were these two very impressive wampum belts and so penelope in enlist
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her brother walter grave who has inherited the family home farriers she just i enlist while the grave to bring these items that the the waffle house and the report to court however while to grave is unworthy of the trust because the items never make it there and it's been this enduring mystery what happened to these wampum belts that are very important to the wampano people and so when my husband and i were in in england and seeing farriers you know we discussed if they know about the story of the wampum belts because there's been this theory that wall degree kept them and buried them on the property or hid them somewhere in the property and they are no longer a farriers but but there's a wampanoch scholar paula peters but who's been working on an exhibit with wampum valance and she's done a lot of research and she's been looking for them too so i really hope she's able to find them so king philip's war
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has taken a terrible toll on josiah's health. he dies four years later at the age of 52. penelope is supposed to have committed commissioned this morning ring to commemorate his passing. so this is a very high style ring we can see remnants of what is presumably just eyes hair in the ring. it has john cody's maker's mark inside the ring john cody was a gold in silversmith of boston, but there's no inscription. so even though it did pass down through the family. we can't be 100% sure that the story behind this room is true, you know, although there was it is quite possibly true, but we can't say for sure. but we do know that penelope had very difficult time with josiah's passing. there's a letter of surviving letter from a plymouth colony secretary nathaniel morton, which is actually in the collections of mass historical
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society in the winslow papers. it's just this really wonderful document and athena morton writes to penelope. he's really trying to console her on the loss of josiah. we don't have any letters between josiah and penelope that survive but in his will josiah gave penelope broad powers over the estate so at this time widows typically received a third of their husbands personal property into third life interest in their real estate but josiah lee's cannot be in charge of everything he gives her the power to sell land if she needs to and so he clearly has great faith in her abilities in her abilities of land management which you would have shown during the years that he was governor and was traveling to so much and she to oversee the property so penelope remains a weirdo for the final 23 years of my life and she does rise to the occasion. she you know, she overcomes her
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grief. she managed to educate images to educate her children oversee the property and she also wages to to legal battles late in life to reclaim family properties and one of them she conducts his latest 1703 right before her death and she writes this petition to massachusetts. governor, joseph dudley and so it's again, it's just this amazing document and it shows reflects her knowledge of legal matters in does reflect again on the excellent education. she must have had so the this issue is resolved ultimately resolved in her favor, but not until after her death. so we're not sure what happens to penelope in josiah's home the stories that have burned down late in the 1600s, which is quite possibly true in then there is a story that you may have gone to live at this house built by her son isaac in the
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late 1600s for the final years of her life. now, this is a historic house museum in marshfield that's open to the public and so again, we she may have lived here for the final years of her life. we're not quite sure. after her death her her memory continues to be honored by her descendants. and in fact a number of her descendants during the revolutionary war remained loyalists and you can see in the records that there is a strong attachment to their british lineage. so it's so interesting how her heritage and her influence did have these lasting repercussions. generations of winslow's continue to be named penelope and pelham and they're still penalties around today and her female relatives in particular they care for the family history the heritage the heirlooms. this is a very true in many
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families that women are the preservers of family heritage and history but also larger pieces of the historical record, and i just want to show you one last material item having to do with penelope story. this is a commemorative marker placed in the early 20th century at the home sites of both winslow families. and so the storm just honors governors edward and josiah. it makes no mention of either susanna winslow or penelope and it's just so it's so heavily symbolic of the covering up of women's history the erasure of women's history that's taking place over the years. and so in conclusion, i just want to say that i really feel that the use of material culture in additional to traditional written records. not only has the power to shed light on the life of an elite into individual like penelope, but also more ordinary people
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who had an impact on their time. there are so many important yet overlooked stories that we need to recover and it's up to us to find the ways to tell these stories. so, thank you very much and be happy to take any questions. great. well, thank you very much for a very informative talk and i just would like to remind the audience members that we use the q&a function, which if you're using a mac or a pc is typically at the bottom of the screen sort of in the middle if you're using a tablet, it may be off to the side. so we have a couple questions, although i would certainly encourage others to to submit more but one question was it is difficult to find the voice of people who have not left extensive papers. did you have a moment of feeling like you found the voice of penelope winslow or just sort of aha, or i hear her kind of moment. yes. it's a very good question. so yes, i think the well the portrait, you know, just spending some time thinking
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about the portion how she picks her self there so that i think gave me a lot of insight into how she identified herself. but all so the legal documents that i talk about where she's trying to reclaim these family inheritances. she is a woman land typically passes down through men, but she's claiming this land and she feels that she has a strong right to it. she's very strong sense of herself in her associated rights and so seeing i think just the portrait and those legal documents were the especially one where you can really hear her voice. those are the where i really got a sense of who she you know, the as i said the privileges in the rights that she thought she was entitled to it's great. we all had a question that said it to ask you how you feel your work intersex with the work of
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laurel-factual thatcher erlich. so actually yes. i was very inspired by laurel thatcher elric's work very early on in fact my so, you know midwest hill the diary of martha ballard actually got me. so interested in women's diaries that that led me got me on my started with my first book, which is about a diary which is very old diary mutable chandler koi which begins in the 17th century. and so they're just so few women's diaries that exist. but but also so few of those have been published so it just got that wasn't really inspirational to me. so again, yes, it's looking at not only just women in in writings, but also she's a popularized the micro history so looking at one individual life or one topic but you but in
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context with the larger happenings of what's going on at the time in the world and so that yes, that's the approach. i also like to take a light to take an individual subject and then see, you know connect them with the it's a life and times approach what else is going on? you know, how are they affected by what's going on? what are they doing? that is affecting other people. so, yes, she remains very influential, right? um, so a person ask, um, they said i was wondering what widowhood looked like in plymouth was their community support or with women at the mercy of their school. then circumstances are children. so in plymouth actually some rights that were plymouth women actually had some rights that women in england didn't have so for example one is this dour right? which i mentioned about. a widow typically was given a
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third of her husband's her husband's it was really there, you know property realistic. i'm sorry personal property. so the things the movables and then also a third life interest in the real estate. so this this became a right in plymouth, and so if a widow felt that she wasn't given her proper thirds as she would referred to it. she could go to court and they would they would take her cling very seriously because i wanted to make sure that widows were taking care of but also widows often took over their husband's business. so this is true, you know throughout the colonies so you see widows in in roles in businesses that you might not typically associate with women. it was printers or even things it's ship rights or you know, so there's all kinds of all kinds of professions that they kind of fall into to help. help their family because their husband has passed so it's not
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that really that women are setting out. you know, i don't want to again project contemporary attitudes and women of the past and say, you know, women are growing up saying i want to be a shipwright it you know, that's not the case but i yes so they could in their merchant, you know, lots of women merchants holding other roles like healers midwives teachers, so they you know, they did have rights. and you find several wealthy well-to-do widows in plymouth. right oh yeah i think that that sort of paints a more complex picture than i think just just the community yes like almost mistress elizabeth warren, you know one of the early very early women. she was very she was a very well known for the property. she accumulated and she was very very respected in the community. okay, so we had another question which was on where would one
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find out more about the life of indentured during this time period depending on where they ended up servants so i could actually if that person wants to get in touch with me. i can give them you know, i can send them a list of some places to look so i do have a website one colonial woman's world calm and so my email address is on the website, which it's mm coughlin at one colonial woman's so, yeah, so if there's anyone who wants to get in touch, you know, it's questions afterwards or specific questions like that. i'm happy to help them out. great. thank you. so i think judging by the time of the year that we're in we have to ask we have thanksgiving next week just a short time from now. what do you think penelope winslow would have thought of what how we celebrate thanksgiving today considering
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her experience with the native people. and what would she think of what the story how the story is presented? i think it's so hard to even project. you know that this is one thing it's so complex. this is why i like studying early america because it's so complex, you know from from generation to generation to region depending on people's religious background ethnicity. it's so so i just wouldn't be able to put words in her mouth even thinking about you know, i'm on the board of the abbiel adams birthplace, so i was thinking how how would even abigail adams, you know first lady abigail adams in first lady penelope winslow would they even be able to talk to each other? because there's you know generations difference between them and just societies viewpoints have changed women's roles have changed over that just over the colonial period there's so much change so that
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that my answer is actually one of kind of my takeaways is that it is it's such a complex period of time and so we really, you know, we really can't summarize without looking at real details and specifics. so eric wrote speaking of details and specifics does penelope show up in plymouth colony as a witness to any deeds and/or wills or in dower releases for land sales by her husband or in any court records prior to her husband's death. that's a really good question. and yes, that was a great moment when i found this deed from the 1660s that was witnessed by penelope and another woman sarah sarah alden standish. in who's probably just visiting and so this was a deed that at first, you know face value didn't look very interesting i had to do with the maintenance of a bridge but was actually a really important piece of
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plymouth colony infrastructure. so it just showed and so it just shows how women are participating behind the scenes, you know in making these things happen and so because all of these activities different business activities and government activities, we're taking place from the home just i often had her or other family members witness things. so, yes, so there's that there's that one in there's some you know, you can also tell who else is in the house at the time. she hadn't visited her half brother visited and so they'll occasionally witness deeds. so yeah, so it's that's a great way to learn about, you know, again, like kind of a backdoor way to learn about that time period not just look about look at who's who's putting this deed or these documents in progress, but then who's witnessing these things too. so who's in the background? it's just a matter of also just getting different perspectives, you know, trying to think about
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these events from a multitude of perspectives. so another guest said are there other women in the colony during the time that you're interested in researching. i know these are often large undertakings and it's hard to track these people down so but yes, so i did i did a lot of research in conjunction with a health pilgrim homies in with this women of plymouth exhibit and it's it's still up in you know, because of covid it's lasted longer than it should that it was intended to so it's still up and actually film hall just opened the is it there's no they're opening this weekend. they've been closed and they're open for a few weeks. so the exhibit is still up. it's a great exhibit because it's not just the 17th century. not just mayflower women. it's also native women in women throughout the centuries. there are lots of women in that colony. they're fascinating and not just the mayflower, you know women,
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but just through different time period so i've been kind of accumulating information along the way but also my next book project is on the wives in general the wives of the colonial governor. so when i was working on the book about penalty i got interested in thinking about how did other women in her position? you know colonial governors wise how did they as the highest ranking women in the colonies? how did they exert power so i'm looking not only at plymouth but the other original, you know, the 13 colonies they made up the original united states. so so many stories out there. great, so one probably only time for the one last question, but jay said would you remind us of the relationship between peregrine white and edward winslow? so yes, so so peregrine was the
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son of susanna white in her first husband, and then she married edward winslow. that was their second marriage each and so edward winslow was peregrine's stepfather and actually a new book has just come out or it's about to come out on paragon peregrine white published by the marshfield historical society. so if you're interested, it's a great story actually done by former pilgrim hawk here steven o'neal. so if you're interested in that contact historical society great. well, thank you very
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