Case 5 & Case 6 (paired)

These books were each written in the 20th century in an effort to teach young women readers about the Revolutionary War. Based on their target audience, each text features a coming of age teenage girl as protagonist who encounters a conflict based on the war. In the Little Maid books, both by Alice Turner Curtis, the conflict revolves around young girls who are forced to deal with a crisis of the War in a mature and moral manner. Both of the main characters obtain secret information from British soldiers about battle plans and must cope with the situation as adults. These books educate their young audience and teach a lesson while also informing them about the historical significance of the Revolutionary War.

The Munn collection includes numerous titles that fall into the “young woman” genre; here are two more. Two Girls of Old New Jersey deals with historical aspects of the Revolutionary War through the eyes of young female witnesses. The author Agnes Carr Sage dedicates it to her family, Marian Carol Sage, and, affectionately, “To all young girls of New Jersey.” Molly Pitcher, a similar text, celebrates American patriots by focusing on the famous Molly Pitcher to teach its audience of the past.

With reading levels that range from books that parents read to their daughters all the way to books meant to be read by young women, this literary genre provides stories of heroines for its readers to emulate.

Curtis, Alice Turner. A Little Maid of Monmouth. New York: Knopf, 1953.

Curtis, Alice Turner. A Little Maid of Old Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Penn Publishing Company, 1919.

Sage, Agnes Carr. Two Girls of Old New Jersey. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1912.

Stevenson, Augusta. Molly Pitcher: Young Patriot. New York: Aladdin, 1986.

Frontispiece to Two Girls of Old New Jersey.

The Revolutionary War was a devastating period for the people of America, and although it was a difficult time, many displayed traits of strength, bravery, and courageousness. Young boys between 15 and 18 years old joined the military to fight alongside George Washington and his armies. In historical novels, these youths are depicted in characters such as 16-year old Jack Marlton, who could not wait to join the army, and 18-year old Gideon Jones, who was brave enough to want to join the navy.

By reading these novels, we gain an understanding of how these boys went about their lives and how they dealt with the war—mentally and physically. Today young men their age are usually in school (and probably playing games that mimic war). Through books such as these, young readers may gain a better understanding of the lives their forbearers lived and, perhaps, empathize with them—or at least wonder at their vastly different experiences.

Tomlinson, Everett T. Washington’s Young Aids. Boston: W. A. Wilde Co., 1897.

Meader, Stephen W. Guns for the Saratoga. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Inc., 1955.

Otis, James. The Boy Spies of Philadelphia. New York: A. L. Burt & Co., 1897.

Ellis, Edward S. The Boy Patriot: A Story of Jack, the Young Friend of Washington. New York: A. L. Burt, 1900.

Frontispiece to The Boy Spies of Philadelphia.