The record of women inbegins with and gradually includes European and African women. The experiences of these women differed widely depending on their ethnicity, their status, and the gender roles defined by their culture. In the colony’s early years, survival, not tradition, influenced the roles of men and women, whether white or black, free or unfree. Planters’ wives, , and slaves labored in the fields alongside one another, while an unmarried woman with land could engage in business the same way a man might. As grew from a fortified outpost into the capital of a permanent colony, colonists began to envision a stable society based on the patriarchal system they had known in England, where men held authority over their wives, children, and other dependents. But the uneven sex ratio, the scattered nature of settlement, the high mortality rate, and frequent remarriages made the transfer of such ideas difficult, if not impossible. Historians agree that a society with less emphasis on gender roles gradually ceded to the traditional patriarchal system, but the exact timing of this change is not entirely clear. By the mid-seventeenth century, the colony’s lawmakers began to use ideas about gender and race to codify two distinct roles for Virginia women: the so-called good wife, typically free and white, who performed domestic work in her home and raised her children; and the agricultural laborer, typically enslaved and black. By the end of the seventeenth century, members of the planter elite had separated themselves from the rest of Virginia’s residents with their landed wealth, enslaved laborers, and wives who managed their homes. Although middling women (women of moderate means) continued to work alongside their husbands in the fields and operate taverns and other businesses well into the eighteenth century, all classes of women became relegated to the private sphere while their husbands increasingly dominated the public world. By the end of the colonial period, women, whether rich or poor, urban or rural, were expected to skillfully manage a household and provide an example for their children—acts that bolstered patriarchal authority in colonial Virginia.