NYS Archives: Rights of Women in Early New York


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The New York State Archives is providing teachers and students with online access to historical records that illuminate the history of women’s rights in New York State from its earliest days as New Netherland through the mid 19th century through it’s quarterly online Document Showcase program which highlights a topic from state history using records from the Archives.

Each Showcase includes sample documents, an historical sketch and links to educational activities for classroom use. The topics are based upon the State Education Department’s core curriculum for 7th and 8th grade social studies as well as special events of that quarter. The educational activities are created by a teacher and correlate to New York State learning standards. Each Showcase also provides links within the State Archives’ website for further information on the topic.

In addition, because many early documents are difficult to read, translations and transcriptions are provided where necessary. This quarter’s Document Showcase on women’s rights can be found on the Archives website at www.archives.nysed.gov, and includes an excerpt of a marriage contract from 1643, a petition by a widow’s sons that she be granted a letter of administration from 1670, a law excerpt from 1710 classifying women as equals of minors and those “not of Sound mind,” and a law excerpt from 1848 protecting the property of married women.

Photo: Excerpt from the Laws of New York from 1848, Chapter 200, allowing women to own and manage real property separate from their husbands. Courtesy the New York State Archives.

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