Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Brett Rushforth

Committee Members

Ronald Schechter

Martin D. Gallivan


The culture of the Illinois Country that began to develop in the second half of the seventeenth century changed the social function of gender for Illinois males, females, and berdaches, a third gender that existed in Illinois culture. In contrast to their previously lower status in patriarchal Illinois culture, Illinois women gained new opportunities for influence as Christian teachers after French Jesuits introduced Christianity to the region. They gained other opportunities at the beginning of the eighteenth century as wives of French fur traders and godmothers in extensive kin systems that controlled the fur trade in the region. Males were divided in their reactions to Christianity, but Illinois masculinity adjusted to include a category for Christianity. Illinois men whose female relatives married fur traders benefitted from direct access to the fur trade. There is no mention of Illinois berdaches in the historical record after 1698. At this point the berdaches most likely either moved to other tribes or ceased to be a significant part of Illinois Country culture. Both French and Illinois participated in the creation of a new Illinois Country culture in which gender functioned in different ways.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Thesis is part of Honors ETD pilot project, 2008-2013. Migrated from Dspace in 2016.

On-Campus Access Only