Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Marli F. Weiner

Second Committee Member

Richard W. Judd

Third Committee Member

Stephen R. Marks


The history of Penobscot Bay is one of tradition, grounded in the sameness of the origins of settlers after 1763, and carried forward through the end of the nineteenth century. This traditionalism affected every aspect of people's lives and was reflected in the labor patterns of both women and men. It was also the basis for a strong sense of community in the region. Initially gendered labor roles brought growth and prosperity to the region, evidenced by the successes of farming, fishing, and shipping by men, and the diligence of housekeeping, sewing, and teaching by women. By 1860, however, the ability of traditional labor to sustain families waned and women began to enter public labor in numbers revealing the fragility of the Bay's economy and its traditionalism. Community ties constructed by years of relative isolation became frayed as well. By 1900 this region had fallen behind the national economy by all common measures of success and progress. Personal papers, store ledgers, and newspapers, the only sources of information about women's home productivity, revealed the expanding role of women as stabilizing and adaptable earners between 1850 and 1900. Without these documents, women's work from the home remains hidden. U.S. Census data, the recorded evidence of women's public labors, tracked the entrance of women into public labor as family needs and employment opportunities dictated. Collated and analyzed Census labor data provided multi-faceted information about both women and men. By the end of the century the financial well being of families based on men's traditional labor showed the relative failure of their labors, and the relative successes of women and men who entered non- traditional labors. Women provided significant economic support for the well being of their families from their labors through home production and public labor. The sameness of the original settlers and those who followed served to resist innovation in all areas of people's lives because of their reliance on tradition. This behavior applied to the twentieth century's history for the region as well, and must be considered as an important component of any predictions for the region's future.