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Children at Work

The indenture contract of nine-year-old Elizabeth Fortune reveals the opportunities available to young free black women in colonial New York.

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Coverture

Coverture is a legal principal that dates back to the Middle Ages and comes from a French term meaning “covered.” Imported to the American colonies as part of English common law, coverture had a significant impact on women’s lives.

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Professional Portraitist

Two works by artist Henrietta Johnston, the first professional female portraitist in the English colonies, illustrate the fashions and values of the eighteenth-century colonies.

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The Rapalje Children

This portrait of an affluent colonial family illustrates the different expectations of boys and girls in the eighteenth century.

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Fashionable Rebellion

This portrait shows how free Black women in Spanish Louisiana turned an oppressive law into a celebration of individuality and culture.

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Settling Russian Alaska

This letter demonstrates that Russian colonial efforts relied on intermarriage between Russian traders and Native women.

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