Selected Women’s Autobiographies on the American Revolutionary War

Women’s Autobiographies


The linked titles of the autobiographies are connected to an entry in GWonline that provides you with an abstract and additional information.


The journal of Philadelphia Quaker, Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker (1735–1807), is perhaps the single most significant personal record of eighteenth-century life in America from a woman's perspective. Drinker wrote in her diary nearly continuously between 1758 and 1807, from two years before her marriage to the night before her last illness. The extraordinary span and sustained quality of the journal make it a rewarding document for a multitude of historical purposes. Drinker saw English colonies evolve into the American nation while she herself changed from a young unmarried woman into a wife, mother, and grandmother. Her journal entries touch on every contemporary subject, political, personal, and familial. There is little that escaped Drinker's quill, and her diary is a delight not only for the information it contains, but also for the way in which she conveys her world across the centuries.

Wikipedia site on Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker


Frederika Charlotte Louise von Massow, Baroness Riedesel zu Eisenbach (1746–1808) was the wife of General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel of Brunswick. In 1776 when the Duke of Brunswick signed a treaty to support Great Britain in the suppression of the rebellion in their American colonies, von Riedesel was promoted to general and named commander of the Brunswick army. His wife, referred to  as “Mrs. General”, accompanied him during the Saratoga Campaign in the American Revolutionary War (1775–83), together with her three small children, and kept a journal of the campaign. These journal accounts and letters form one of the most engaging and readable accounts of the American Revolution. Written with directness, simplicity, and charm by the wife of the British commanding general, the narrative reveals the conditions in revolutionary America.

Text Online: Project Muse

Wikipedia site on: Frederika Charlotte Riedesel


This volume gathers more than 100 letters written by Mercy Otis Warren (1728–1814). Warren was a major literary figure of her era and one of the most important American women writers of the eighteenth century. Her correspondents included Martha and George Washington, Abigail and John Adams, and Catharine Macaulay. Before this volume, Warren's letters had been published sporadically, in small numbers, and mainly to help complete the collected correspondence of some of the famous men to whom she wrote. This volume addresses that imbalance by focusing on Warren's letters to her family members and other women. The letters offer a wealth of insights into eighteenth-century American culture, including social customs, women's concerns, political and economic conditions, medical issues, and attitudes on child rearing. They reveal a woman of considerable intellect, religious faith, compassion, literary intelligence, and acute sensitivity to the historical moment of extraordinary and every-day events in the new American republic.

Text Online: Project Muse

Wikipedia site on: Mercy Otis Warren


As the American-born daughter of a British army officer, Margaret Moncrieffe Coghlan (1763–1787) was forced to marry  British officer John Coghlan (~1754–1807) in 1777 at age 14. Margaret despised the man, and claims that the marriage ruined her life. The couple soon separated. Her misery led her into a host of financial, legal, and social problems, and she died in 1787. In her memoir, which was first published in 1794, she describes her struggle and tries to justify her desperate circumstances. Her work provides valuable insight into the pressures faced by well-bred middle-class women of the time.

Text Online: Internet Archive

Website on: John Coghlan