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Rhode Island

  • By: Justin Corfield
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

One of the original 13 states in the Union, the first Europeans who arrived in Rhode Island were with the Italian navigator Giovanni de Verrazzano in 1524. Some settlers arrived in 1636 after they had been expelled from Massachusetts, and it was not long before small townships were established. In the early days, these operated with the help from friends and neighbors, as settlers there often had no extended family members. Gradually, however, through intermarriage, wider social networks were formed. Women were primarily homemakers, as there was not much work they could do except as domestics and low-paid producers of piece goods.

In the late 18th and early 19th century, the industrialist Samuel Slater (1768–1835) established a cotton industry in Rhode Island, and his mill aimed ...

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