Georgia’s Frontier Women
Female Fortunes in a Southern Colony

Ben Marsh

A pioneering portrait of women's involvement in the colonization and consolidation of Georgia


"Marsh has given us a fresh and important look not only at women's changing economic and cultural worlds in colonial Georgia, but at the dynamic and complex nature of colonial Georgia as a whole. Given its scope and its ambitiousness, Georgia's Frontier Women is certain to become one of the most authoritative books on colonial Georgia for some time."
—Michele Gillespie, Professor of History, Wake Forest University

"An important and welcome addition to the literature on Georgia's history. Because this work addresses the critical role of women in the Georgia colony, it fills a significant gap in our understanding of Georgia's settlement."
—Lee Ann Caldwell, Professor of History, Georgia College & State University

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Ranging from Georgia's founding in the 1730s until the American Revolution in the 1770s, Georgia's Frontier Women explores women's changing roles amid the developing demographic, economic, and social circumstances of the colony's settling. Georgia was launched as a unique experiment on the borderlands of the British Atlantic world. Its female population was far more diverse than any in nearby colonies at comparable times in their formation. Ben Marsh tells a complex story of narrowing opportunities for Georgia's women as the colony evolved from uncertainty toward stability in the face of sporadic warfare, changes in government, land speculation, and the arrival of slaves and immigrants in growing numbers.

Marsh looks at the experiences of white, black, and Native American women-old and young, married and single, working in and out of the home. Mary Musgrove, who played a crucial role in mediating colonist-Creek relations, and Marie Camuse, a leading figure in Georgia's early silk industry, are among the figures whose life stories Marsh draws on to illustrate how some frontier women broke down economic barriers and wielded authority in exceptional ways.

Marsh also looks at how basic assumptions about courtship, marriage, and family varied over time. To early settlers, for example, the search for stability could take them across race, class, or community lines in search of a suitable partner. This would change as emerging elites enforced the regulation of traditional social norms and as white relationships with blacks and Native Americans became more exploitive and adversarial. Many of the qualities that earlier had distinguished Georgia from other southern colonies faded away.

Page count: 272 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9

Read more about colonial women in Georgia at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


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Ben Marsh is a lecturer in history at Stirling University in Scotland.