The Weston Sisters

An American Abolitionist Family

By Lee V. Chambers

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 1 figs, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1817-3
    Published: November 2014
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-1818-0
    Published: November 2014
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4020-2
    Published: November 2014

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The Westons were among the most well-known abolitionists in antebellum Massachusetts, and each of the Weston sisters played an integral role in the family's work. The eldest, Maria Weston Chapman, became one of the antislavery movement’s most influential members. In an extensive and original look at the connections among women, domesticity, and progressive political movements, Lee V. Chambers argues that it was the familial cooperation and support between sisters, dubbed "kin-work," that allowed women like the Westons to participate in the political process, marking a major change in women’s roles from the domestic to the public sphere. The Weston sisters and abolitionist families like them supported each other in meeting the challenges of sickness, pregnancy, child care, and the myriad household responsibilities that made it difficult for women to engage in and sustain political activities.

By repositioning the household and family to a more significant place in the history of American politics, Chambers examines connections between the female critique of slavery and patriarchy, ultimately arguing that it was family ties that drew women into the activism of public life and kept them there.

About the Author

Lee V. Chambers is professor of history at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
For more information about Lee V. Chambers, visit the Author Page.


"A thoughtful and enlightening approach to the topic."--Civil War Book Review

"Succeeds in showing how sisterhood—with education, religion, and other factors—contributed to women's activism."--Journal of American History

“A must-read for historians of nineteenth-century women and antislavery.”--American Historical Review

"Compelling and bounds ahead of previous studies of the Westons, Lee V. Chambers makes an important contribution to antebellum scholarship with The Weston Sisters. A pivotal text that makes a much-needed contribution to our understanding of abolitionism and the importance of sisterly ties."--Julie Roy Jeffrey, Goucher College

"The Weston Sisters presents a fresh and illuminating portrait of how the sibling bond facilitated the sisters' radical antislavery activism and demonstrates the inextricable tie between their domestic and political labors. Scholars of abolitionism, gender, families, and antebellum politics will learn from this deeply researched book."--Anne M. Boylan, University of Delaware