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.