“A Good Poor Man’s Wife”

Being a Chronicle of Harriet Hanson Robinson and Her Family in Nineteenth-Century New England

Claudia L. Bushman

A shrewd observer of 19th-century America, Harriet Hanson Robinson’s participation in important events and her salty comments, preserved and recorded in the poetry and books she wrote during her lifetime, offer a dramatic account of how one strong-minded woman, who first worked as a textile worker in the industrial town of Lowell, MA, turned to writing and politics to sustain her family after her husband’s early death. Harriet’s personal papers shed light on such topics as labor history, state politics, and the mechanics of writing and publication. Her best-known publications, Loom and Spindle, which deals with early factory life, and Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement, are often quoted today.

Cover Image of “A Good Poor Man’s Wife”: Being a Chronicle of Harriet Hanson Robinson and Her Family in Nineteenth-Century New England
Paper: $24.95 | E-book: $19.99
ISBN-13: 9780874518832
Pages: 304 | Size: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
Date Published: December 1, 1998


  • One forsees A Good Poor Man’s Wife being recommended for reading in college courses in American social history and women’s studies . . . Only when this sensitively and, in portions, very beautiful book is finished and put aside does the reader realize that what sustained interest in it was not the great events at all, but the everyday ordinariness of family life recorded in Harriet’s diary. One still cares about the Robinson’s as individuals and as a family.

  • A Good Poor Man's Wife shows the power of biography to convey large historical themes. From early life in the Lowell Mills to political activism in the antebellum era, Harriet Hanson Robinson's life is a microcosm of urban life in 19th-century New England.

    Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
    Harvard University

About the Author

CLAUDIA L. BUSHMAN taught American studies at Columbia University. She has written numerous books and articles, including Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-Day Saints in Modern America.

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