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Primary Source of the Month

Painted Handerkerchief. Courtesy of the Concord Museum.

Painted Handerkerchief. Courtesy of the Concord Museum.

Women on the home front faced many challenges during the Revolutionary War. With husbands and fathers off to war, many women suddenly became responsible for the farms and plantations on which they lived. They had to manage slaves, perform farm chores, and conduct business on top of taking care of the children and the household. Some also took on extra tasks to help the armies, including bringing food to soldiers, sewing uniforms, and rolling bandages.

This linen handkerchief was crafted in England around 1790. The border is made up of idealized pictures and short poems describing the experiences of American women on the home front during the Revolutionary War. The women are optimistic about the new challenges they are facing and each task is a "labor of love." The center has a poem that reads: "Now independent, firm and free, by thirteen stripes distinguish'd, we unite our hearts, and join our hands. Our infant-states shall distant lands inform; that order, commerce, wealth, contentment, industry, and health, can only flourish in that soil, where, freedom like a son doth smile, and will reward the lab'rer's toil. Call'd from our wives, our children dear, by wars stern voice and fate severe, long have we toil'd; nor toil'd in vain, that Jewel Liberty to gain."

This lesson was written by Marianne Esposito, Key West, FL, and Kim O'Neil, Liverpoole, NY.