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1st Student's Major

History

1st Student's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Students' Professional Biography

Meghan Turok is a senior undergraduate student at Minnesota State University, Mankato majoring in History with a minor in English. Meghan chose to pursue a historical focus of Early Modern Europe and Women’s History after taking an undergraduate course titled History of Women in Preindustrial Europe. She became fascinated by the lack of historical research on these women, especially those who were single and was inspired to examine the perspective of women in her other history classes. During the course, she was offered the opportunity to do an independent study, translating 1795 French census records from Dijon, France. After translating these records, Meghan examined the single women specifically in them and their participation in the economy. In 2007, she received two grants, a URC Research Summer Grant and The Commission on the Status of Women grant, to further this research. After graduating in fall 2009, Meghan plans on taking a year off of school and eventually pursuing a Master’s Degree in Women’s history.

Mentor's Name

Christopher Corley

Mentor's Email Address

christopher.corley@mnsu.edu

Mentor's Department

History

Mentor's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

The study of single women in early modern Europe (1500-1800) has become a focus of scholarly examination during the past ten years. Historians have recognized that female singleness was often detested as it rejected the societal expectations of women that included domesticity and submission. But what they have yet to identify are the valuable economic contributions single women as a whole provided to society. In order to offer further research to this study, I examined 1795 census records from the Archives départementals de la Côte d’Or in Dijon, France that I translated from French to English. The census I examined covered one section of the city and included 2,605 entries. With the records I created an Excel database that included each citizen’s first and last name, age, occupation, the street they lived on, how long they lived in Dijon, and additional comments concerning other children that were too young to be included in the census or the present state of affairs of the individual or family. My data reveals important characteristics specific to single women’s living arrangements and labor. First, single women comprised an important part of Dijon’s population. Second, they relied on female peers more frequently than men for survival. Female clustering, or two or more single women living in the same household, is seen repeatedly in these records and provides further detail into the ways in which single women survived without a husband or family. Finally, the occupations of single women compared to male and married women’s occupations, met an economic need that was crucial for the development of Dijon’s economy. Their manual labor provided the basic materials and services needed for the success of Dijon’s leading industries.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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