Elizabeth Cadman White

Background to the Elizabeth Cadman White research project

The Westport Historical Society engaged Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, independent scholar and the author of One Colonial Woman’s World: The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit (1673–1758) (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), to research the life of Elizabeth Cadman White (ca. 1685–1768), one of the first owners of the ca. 1710 Cadman-White-Handy House.

The goal of this project was to highlight Elizabeth Cadman White’s experiences within the context of her social, cultural, economic, and political environment. Areas of Elizabeth’s life researched include her education; her religious background; her relationship to slavery (her father was a slaveowner); her economic circumstances; and her experiences living in an isolated, rural community during the Indian wars of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Also investigated were aspects of her personal life, such as her marriage to William White and her raising of eleven children. The research into Elizabeth Cadman White’s life will include the review of surviving family documents, genealogies, local histories, contemporary primary sources, and vital, court, and church records. The results of this investigation will offer a significant educational opportunity to provide Handy House visitors with a better understanding of Westport’s beginnings, as well as with a greater awareness of how contemporary women’s lives were linked to larger issues of their time and place.

This project was funded by the Helen Ellis Charitable Trust and Mass Humanities.




Economic Circumstances


Native Americans

Material Culture