The Life and Writings of Betsey Chamberlain: Native American Mill Worker. By Judith A. Ranta. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2003. 284 pp. $47.50/$18.95 paper. Reviewed by Lori Jacobson, State University of New York at Buffalo Labor history and theory owes a great debt to the factory women of the Lowell, Massachusetts, textile mills whose literary accomplishments hold a well-recognized place in the tradition of writing by ordinary, working women. Judith Ranta enhances Lowell scholarship with her meticulously researched book The Life and Writings of Betsey Chamberlain: Native American Mill Worker. Ranta is a tenacious archivist, and her book rescues Betsey Guppy Chamberlain (1797 1886) from obscurity by collecting the majority of her contributions to the Lowell Offering and New England Offering (some thirty-four pieces making up just over a third of the book) and by setting Chamberlain's writing in historical, biographical, and critical contexts. Some of the book's value, however, is undermined by Ranta's rather strained attempts to place Chamberlain in a Native American literary tradition. Ranta appears to have approached her scholarship with two predrawn conclusions: that the hardships of Chamberlain's life were due largely to her native ancestry and that these hardships flavored her writings in
Legacy – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jun 25, 2004
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