Importance Of Patriarchy In The Nineteenth Century

1585 words - 6 pages

The status of married women in nineteenth- and twentieth-century peasant societies is a field of study that is currently being nourished by a number of major theories, questions and hypotheses. In relation to them, our essay seeks to outline a model of the male/female relationship in the rural parts of the Saguenay region during the settlement period. The time frame extends from 1860--by which time some 20 parishes had been opened--until the beginning of the Great Depression. By then, most of the existing rural ecumene was occupied. Settlement nevertheless continued to expand on what could be called the margins: some 15 small parishes were still to be opened during the following decades, as the land clearing process did not end until the beginning of the 1950s (Girard and Perron 1-7). The profound changes that were set off between the Great Depression and World War II will therefore not be dealt with in this analysis. They fall within quite a different set of issues that should focus primarily on industry, the city and the marketplace, as well as the complex interactions that the latter institutions or mechanisms maintained with the peasant family and the farming economy. Moreover, it appeared to us that there was enough to say about the status of women in this new collectivity, such as it existed during its period of territorial expansion.The data used come from quite varied sources: the BALSAC population register, notarial deeds (a body of 300 wills and 1,800 marriage contracts), manuscripts of government and church censuses, local newspapers, and numerous local history monographs. These were supplemented by several bodies of oral data, gathered from elderly persons (men and women, in approximately equal proportions). (Addams 50-55) They consist first of 150 in-depth interviews conducted under our direction between 1979 and 1995 in connection with the theme of this article, and second, of another body of 140 interviews of a more general nature, which we conducted between 1968 and 1990. In addition we used a body of more than 900 life histories deposited at the Archives nationales du Quebec at Chicoutimi and collected between 1930 and 1980 (a number of which describe the early years of the Saguenay settlement). We also used a set of 30 interviews conducted in 1982, with our assistance, as part of the Maria Chapdelaine project. Lastly, we were able to draw on several collections of Saguenay life histories (Association Feminine D'Education et D'Action Sociale 1978-1990) as well as the initial findings of a doctoral thesis currently being prepared under our direction, and dealing with the birth rituals. A few other sources will also be identified along the way. We will attempt to combine all these data with what 25 years of research have taught us about the history of the Saguenay peasant society. The modest conclusions that we draw from this analysis may do little to advance feminist history--if that term is taken as referring to an approach to...

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