Date of Award

Spring 1998

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Laurel Ulrich


This dissertation is a study of value adaptation by the southern New England Indians who attended Moor's Charity School, in Lebanon, Connecticut, between 1743 and 1770. These Indians were part of New Light Minister Eleazar Wheelock's extended household, dubbed by one student, the "tawnee family." This designation distinguished these Indian scholars as surrogate members of the Wheelock family. I analyzed how the Indian students adapted to, resisted and reformed the values taught at Moor's as they grew to adulthood.

I drew my analysis from letters collected in the Eleazar Wheelock Papers housed at Dartmouth College. My arguments are drawn principally from Indian-authored texts preserved in the Wheelock Papers. Wheelock and the students' correspondence allow one to examine lifelong relationships, particularly with respect to the meaning of family. One of my arguments is that family--as an ideological construct, as the defining places of gender roles and as a defender of rights to the broader society--is essential to understanding racial relations at the time. The easily identifiable and the less recognizable families formed under the auspices of Wheelock functioned within one Anglo-American family.

One result of the education Indians received at Moor's was a newly created perception of what constituted appropriate values within those Anglo-American and Indian households that interacted extensively. Some Moor's students became Wheelock's proteges and went on missions to convert the Iroquois to Christianity. They also served as leaders in their own tribes. The correspondence demonstrates that belonging, as a perceived sense of place or comfort whether within a family or faith in colonial southern New England, was a central concern of the correspondents. Importantly, Wheelock and the Indian students debated the conditional and fluid set of circumstances that created an amorphous sense of longing in the Indian students, for community, for a place to belong and for acceptance.

My study concludes that following a lifetime of disillusionment the adult proteges found it necessary to create a new, intentional community in upstate New York. They felt physical removal was necessary to preserving their adapted values, and ultimately finding a place to belong.