When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in American History by Kathleen Feeley

By Kathleen Feeley

Gossip is among the most typical, and so much condemned, kinds of discourse during which we interact - whilst it is usually soaking up and socially major, it's also broadly denigrated. This quantity examines attention-grabbing moments within the heritage of gossip in the US, from witchcraft trials to humans journal, supporting us to work out the topic with new eyes.

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Fleet, Virginia Colonial Abstracts, 121. 56. The first mention of Thomas Bromfield as a vestryman is in the recording of Elizabeth Wood’s libel. He was named an appraiser of Robert Frith’s estate on June 24, 1569, as were Robert Cobbs, Jno. Margaretts, and Richard Barnard. Duvall, Virginia Colonial Abstracts, 50, 77. 57. Rutman and Rutman, Place in Time, 129. 58. Hoffer, Law and People in Colonial America, 111. 59. Marsha Urban, Seventeenth-Century Mother’s Advice Books (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006), 37.

Orally transmitted gossip usually leaves no documentation, but the crisis opened the courts—and thus the written record—to gossipers and gossip about at least one subject: witchcraft. Thus, I argued in 2002, the judicial proceedings provide an invaluable “oral snapshot” of the widespread talk in Essex County about sorcery during 1692. At least one person who lived through the crisis later recalled it in this way. ” For her, it appeared, the talk in 1692 was just as important as witchcraft itself.

The first mention of Thomas Bromfield as a vestryman is in the recording of Elizabeth Wood’s libel. He was named an appraiser of Robert Frith’s estate on June 24, 1569, as were Robert Cobbs, Jno. Margaretts, and Richard Barnard. Duvall, Virginia Colonial Abstracts, 50, 77. 57. Rutman and Rutman, Place in Time, 129. 58. Hoffer, Law and People in Colonial America, 111. 59. Marsha Urban, Seventeenth-Century Mother’s Advice Books (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006), 37. Only 10–25 percent of women in England were functionally literate, or able to sign their names, although functional literacy rates were higher for middling social groups and those in urban areas.

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