Colonial America

The era that was seventeenth century colonial America was very different
from todayís times. The society that existed at that time had very different
views on life and how it should occur. The daily routines were very unlike ours
even tough it may be hard to believe. Even families, which seem to be a
non-changing faction in history, were also distinct in size and order. (Thomas

XIII) John Demos commented that "the colonial family was Ďextendedí rather
than nuclear. False." John Demos, who in a study of Bristol , Rhode Island,
came up with conclusions about family life in early America that contradicted
ideas previously accepted by historians.(Hawke 58). An extended family includes
the core group of males which are a grandfather, adult sons and sonsí sons,
their wives, and their unmarried daughters. (Brooks 27) Demosís idea is
basically this one. The house in the colonial times shaped the home. What he
means by this is that you could not have an extended family that included
servants, apprentices, and other non-kinfolk in a house that measured twenty
feet by twenty feet and rose only a story and a half. Even if you added another
room, you would only have enough livable space for a nuclear family which
consisted of parents and children. This was due to the high number of children
in a family. The average number was about seven to ten. Some far exceeded that,
others barely managed having two or three. (Hawke, 58-59). In the early colonial
families, every member had a different "job." The head of the family was
mostly the father. He presided over family prayers and worked on the family
farm. Mothers usually raised the children, acted as midwives to other women in
town, and tended to household chores. (Walker 86). Up until about the age eight,
boys and girls wore the same thing. They only wore wool or linen dresses. After
a boy reached the age of eight or nine, he would begin to help out with the
fatherís job, which was farming, and a dress would not suit the job very well.

Girls usually wore their hair long, but always pulled tightly back and up under
a bonnet or hat. The reason for this was that social and religious custom did
not approve or look kindly upon women or girls being in public with an uncovered
head. The women were given a workload since their early days. For example, while
boys were off with their fathers, girls would stay home with their mothers,
mostly helping out with the cooking, sewing and laundering (89). Some daughters,
however, went in to the services of families in the neighborhood, and were
apprenticed to a certain skill, such as lace making or cleaning. (Smith,73)

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were very fair sunny days, as if it had been in

April, and our people, so many as were in health, were cheerful. (Brown, 56) The
overall health of early Americans was far better in the Northern colonies than
in the South. For example, a young male adult from Massachusetts, who had
reached the age of twenty could expect to live about forty-five years more. A
female, about, about forty-two. It was a different story in the colony of

Virginia. A male of twenty would expect to live about twenty-nine more years and
a female, only twenty. That is a large difference, a female from Massachusetts
could live to be about 62 years old, and one from Virginia could live to be
forty years old. In the later half of the 17th century, though, health amongst
all colonists improved, and was even better than Englandís. (Tucker 467) One
of the most surprising facts about hygiene in the colonial society was the lack
of oral care. John Josselyn, a visitor to the early American Colonies, noted
that "the women were pitifully tooth-shaken". He didnít know whether it
was the climate or by sweet meats which were plentiful. This evidence shows that
the colonists were not well advised on matters such as these and that no real
dentists served of purpose(Hawke,72). Food and itís preparation in colonial
times was extremely different from what it is like today. It was hard enough to
prepare the food. Everyone was supposed to help and had different tasks such as
grinding, hewing, and churning. The people with more money and advantages had
slaves cook their meals for them. After the food was cooked and ready to eat, it
wasnít that exciting. The reason for this being that foods were mostly bland
and tasteless because