This introductory chapter details an overview of the life of Rebecca Burgess and the life she had presented through her journals, autobiographies, and other personal documents, citing arguments for and against the credibility of her accounts as well as her efforts and those of her community at Sandwich, Massachusetts, at immortalizing her legacy. Through the art of journal writing, Rebecca defined her core values and her identity for an audience that extended beyond herself and her family. Her journal writing falls within the bounds of Victorian practices. Many scholars of women's autobiography suggest that women often form their self-definitions in relation to others—family and friends—and even portray themselves more passively than men. Although Burgess defined her actions as those of a perfect wife and then grieving widow, frequently she used those conventions to justify her extremely independent actions.
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