This volume presents legal, religious and demographic aspects of the transfer of European family organisations to new environments in the overseas colonies, and illustrates the impacts of contact with other ethnic groups. In Africa the focus is on the Cape, the principal area of European settlement in the 17th-18th centuries; in the Americas the analysis includes indigenous and black families. Inheritance, dowry, marriage, divorce, illegitimacy are topics covered, but the emphasis is above all on women's roles and voices.

Contents: Introduction; Parents and daughters: change in the practice of dowry in São Paulo (1600-1770), Muriel Nazzari; The church and the patriarchal family: marriage conflicts in 16th- and 17th-century New Spain, Patricia Seed; Marriage and the family in colonial Vila Rica, Donald Ramos; Divorce and the changing status of women in 18th-century Massachusetts, Nancy F. Cott; Honour, sexuality and illegitimacy in colonial Spanish America, Ann Twinam; Les naissances illégitimes sur les rives du Saint-Laurent avant 1730, Lynne Paquette and Réal Bates; Women and the family in 18th-century Mexico: law and practice, Edith Couturier; Women and means: women and family property in colonial Brazil, Alida C. Metcalf; Ownership and obligation: inheritance and patriarchal households in Connecticut, 1750-1820,Toby L. Ditz; The spiritual conquest re-examined: baptism and Christian marriage in early 16th-century Mexico, Sarah Cline; The black family in the Americas, A. J. R. Russell-Wood; Marriage patterns of persons of African descent in a colonial Mexico City parish, Edgar F. Love; The anatomy of a colonial settler population: Cape Colony, 1657-1750, Leonard Guelke; Index.