Much has been written over the years about the men of the revolutionary period, but little about the women. In her book Liberty's Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750-1800, Mary Beth Norton Examines this often-overlooked subject. Norton's book is divided into two parts. The first part, which consists of the first five chapters, shows the constant patterns of women's lives in the pre-revolutionary period. The second part, which consists of the last four chapters, shows the changing patterns of women's lives in the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period. In other words, part one explains the life of the prewar colonial woman. While part two discusses the changes that would occur for women during and immediately following the war. Her intention is show that the preconceived notions of colonial women does not stand up to close scrutiny.
In the first chapter, Norton sets a definite tone for the book, by detailing the differences between the domestic roles of rural women of the colonies with urban women. She details the lives of rural women of the North in comparison to women of the rural South. In addition, Norton discusses the even harsher life of the female slave. While they were no completely relegated to domestic tasks, their gender did often play a role in their duties. Norton also discusses the importance of weaving to rural colonial women. It was important not only because they needed to make clothes for their families, which were often large, but as a means of socializing with each other as well. In this first chapter, Norton also tries to dispel the notion that urban women had less impact on family welfare. While they did not have many of the laborious duties of rural women, they were required to tend the house, washing, ironing, sewing, etc. One consistency between rural and urban women was their non-involvement in financial matters. Women were to tend the house the men were to support it.