Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Front matter

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Preface

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xi

PHEBE PERKINS is responsible for this book. The testimony she gave to Hopkinton, Rhode Island, officials in 1785 came to light in 1991 under such unusual circumstances that it forced me to pay attention to her, and it set me on a detective hunt through historical documents to discover everything I could about her. By the time I had...

Abbreviations; maps

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xiii-xv

read more

Introduction: The World of People on the Margin

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-26

IN THE AUTUMN of 1784, a poor, unmarried woman named Phebe Perkins gave birth to a baby in the home of the Cary Clarke family in Hopkinton, Rhode Island. Perkins was not a relative, neighbor, or friend of the Clarkes; rather, the Clarkes had agreed to be her caretakers during this difficult period of her life. They sent someone to fetch...

read more

1. Birth, Infancy, and Childhood

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 27-47

THE NARRATIVES in this chapter focus on the experience of children caught up in the warning-out process at any time between childbirth and adulthood, defined legally in Rhode Island as eighteen for girls and twenty-one for boys. A majority of warned-out adults had such underage children with them; other removals involved...

read more

2. Family Life

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 49-84

THE NARRATIVES in this chapter focus on the ways poor transients organized themselves into families, which were sometimes quite ordinary and traditional and other times quite the opposite. Officials frequently were dismayed by "improper" households: men and women lived together without being legally married, women gave birth to children...

read more

3. Work Life

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 85-120

TRANSIENTS did not have legal inhabitant status, but they provided essential labor for those who did. In every New England town, transient residents worked in kitchens, fields, and shops, enabling legal inhabitants to maintain their households, farms, and businesses; these arrangements often stretched over such long periods...

read more

4. Reversal of Fortune

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 121-154

WHEN IN 1764 John Bennett asked the Wanvick town council to assist him in the construction of a house for his family, he pleaded that he "has the misfortune to be a very poor man." Many of the transients in this study could have said the same thing, for economic hard times, especially in the 1780s, made life even more difficult for people...

read more

5. Old Age and Death

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 155-174

ANY PEOPLE in early America faced the frailties of old age. While the mortality rate of infants and children was high, those who lived into adulthood had a good chance of seeing "advanced years." About 15 percent of the transient adults in this study were fifty years of age or older, compared to 21 percent of all adults in the 1782 census, a difference that underscores the younger age of...

read more

Conclusion: Constructing a Transient's Life

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 175-182

MY GOAL in presenting these narratives has been to recover the experience of people who rarely possessed either the skills or the opportunity to write their own stories. Because of the limitations of the records, all forty tales are fragmentary; none stretch in a satisfactory fashion from cradle to grave, even in those rare cases...

read more

Appendix: Documentary Evidence and Background Information

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 183-206

THIS APPENDIX presents in two forms the information that can be assembled from the raw materials of this study--the warning-out and other documents--to enable readers to participate in the detective work of writing history. The first part provides transcriptions from some of the documents themselves; the second summarizes in...

Documentary Sources for the Narrative Chapters

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 207-219

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 221-228

References

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 229-235

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 237-243