This thesis study how women in 18th century Sweden used reading and writing and how these skills could be a source of income. Historians have studied how many could read during this period or how writing was taught in the parish school. How these skills were used have, however, been overlooked. The main questions are: How, and in which circumstances, did women use reading and writing? Who were these women? What type of return did reading and writing have?
To study how literacy was used is not without difficulty. The traces are often scattered in different types of source material. Several types of sources material have therefore been analyzed. Material like moving certificates, funeral sermons, personals, account books, verifications, church protocols, contracts, court records, recipes amongst others have been used.
This thesis shows that women used reading and writing in different ways. There were not a question of one type of literacy but different types of literacies – it depended on the situation. A writing ability that was limited in one situation could be sufficient in another. By focus on social practice, this thesis argues that women´s reading and writing could have different types of return depending on individual and situation.