Early American History Seminar: Angela Keysor, University of Iowa

Thursday, March 13, 2008

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Early American History and Culture Seminar

“Down But Not Out: Poverty in a Time of Scarcity Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1730–1820”
Angela Keysor, University of Iowa

This paper will take the reader through unchartered territory: the eighteenth-century world of poor relief in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Our guides will be the needy themselves. Through the letters and petitions of desperate women and men, we will see the channels and pathways that those in need of aid travelled. The experiences of the needy reveal that there was a dynamic care system, based on a communal web of relationships that existed in Charlestown during this time period. The very instability of life ensured the vitality of this system of care. Everyone in Charlestown had a vested interest in the success or failure of the town’s relief network.By following individual journeys through this network, we will begin to see the world of poverty through the eyes of the poor themselves.