In her book The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History Linda Colley’s attempts to piece together the life of Elizabeth Marsh, especially her travels in various continents. Before delving into Marsh’s journeys, Colley traces Marsh’s origin including her mother and father. Colley acknowledges that not very many details exist as to Marsh’s life, with the consequence that it is not possible to know much about Elizabeth Marsh. Nevertheless, Colley writes about the life of Marsh with the little information or details she gathers. Colley gathers details of Marsh’s life primarily from Marsh’s only published work. Other details emerge from historical records from places Marsh visited or has connections to.
As previously stated, Colley’s primary source is Marsh’s only published work. This work was published in Morocco in the 1750’s, and is currently available at the British library. Another primary source is an Indian travel journal found at a California library. This travel journal aided Colley in recreating some of Marsh’s journeys. Colley also considered the works of Marsh’s male relatives, particularly those of her son, brother, and uncle.
Records from places where Marsh had travelled to and also places she had family ties provided secondary information to Colley. These records are from places such as Central America, Coastal China, Italy, Java, New South Wales, Persia, Philippines, the Shetlands, and Spain among others. Records from the East India Company also provided essential secondary information. Colley also relied on the internet to scrutinize manuscripts, online documents, and library catalogues. Colley also gathered information from other writer or authors who have written about Marsh.
The strength of Colley’s primary sources is the fact that they provide a firsthand account on Marsh. This is information that cannot be obtained anywhere else, and was vital in recreating her journeys in the various continents. They also assisted Colley in understanding Marsh’s personality, her ideals, fears, and likes. On the other hand, the weakness of these sources is that they are not detailed. Colley could hardly gather any personal information about Marsh from them.
The secondary sources are useful in getting more information about Marsh, especially information about her origin and her family. These sources also tell Colley what Marsh’s world was like, and the effects it had on her life. The weakness of these sources is the fact that they are so many yet yield not as much information as Colley would have wanted. Moreover they are hardly detailed about Marsh, and led Colley to many places as she tried to piece information together.
The benefit of Colley’s focus on Elizabeth Marsh and her family is that the approach a fresh perspective on globalization and its impact on people rarely written about. There is plenty of literature about globalization written from the conventional perspective, thus they offer more of the same facts. Colley’s approach however offers new facts and presents them in a new perspective; this not only provides new information about globalization but also gives the reader a wider understanding of globalization.
Similarly, Colley’s approach enables the reader to understand how globalization affected the ordinary people. Again, a lot of literature about globalization focuses on its impact on groups of people or significant people. Little is written about its effect on the day to day life of ordinary people. This approach by Colley makes the reader feel like they are experiencing the history themselves, which not only provides an interesting and captivating read, but also offers a better understanding of the history.
The drawback of Colley’s approach is that it tends to present facts from one perspective only. To a reader unfamiliar or with little understanding of the history of globalization, this book might present a fraction of the history. Similarly, this approach tends to make the book appear less informative on the history of globalization. Consequently, the book may be dismissed as more of a history about a woman and her family than a history of globalization.
Colley, Linda. The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History. New York: Anchor
Books, 2008. Print.