Eighteenth-century women faced an array of legal and social restrictions. Enslaved women enjoyed almost no protections at all.
Still, many women pushed against these limits, asserting control over finances, households and their bodies. They were not merely victims of a system rigged to deny their equality. They had ambitions: to be truly free, to speak as full citizens, to have a place they could call their own.
Jane Vobe was a Williamsburg tavernkeeper who, as a business owner, claimed more rights than most women.
Lydia Broadnax was an enslaved woman in the George Wythe household who gained her freedom in 1787.
This imagined conversation shows two very different people finding common perspective as women as they discuss their place in society and hopes for the future.