Abandoned: Foundlings in Nineteenth-Century New York City

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By the eve of the Civil War, New York City, like London and Paris before it, had an epidemic of foundlings-children abandoned by their poor, desperate, and typically unmarried mothers. This now forgotten social problem was produced by the rapid and often interlinked phenomena of urban development, population growth, immigration, and mass poverty-particularly female poverty-and it was compounded by the stigma attached to so-called fallen women and their children.

In Abandoned, Julie Miller offers a fascinating, frustrating, and often heartbreaking history of a once devastating problem that wracked New York City. Filled with anecdotes and personal stories, Miller traces the shift in attitudes toward foundlings from ignorance, apathy, and sometimes pity to recognition of their plight as a sign of urban moral decline in need of systematic intervention.

About the Author:
Julie Miller teaches at Hunter College, City University of New York. In 2006-2007, she was the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellow of the New-York Historical Society

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Abandoned is a smart, well-written book that makes wonderful use of extensive primary sources and successfully engages the reader.”
-New York History

“Meticulously researched, compellingly written, Abandoned is a highly original study of an inexplicably understudied topic: child abandonment in the nineteenth-century American city. This important book provides a powerful corrective to excessively romanticized views of childhood in the past.”
-Steven Mintz,author of Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood

“Julie Miller's deeply researched book on foundlings in nineteenth-century New York City fills a long-standing lacunae in the history of dependent children.”
-Journal of American History

"Highly recommended."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814757260
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Miller was the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellow of the New York Historical Society in 2006-2007. She teaches at Hunter College, City University of New York.

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Table of Contents

List of Tables     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Abbreviations     xiii
Introduction     1
"Children of Accident and Mystery": Foundlings in History and Literature     13
"New York as a Nursing Mother": Foundlings in the Antebellum City     47
"The Murder of the Innocents": New York Discovers Its Foundlings     85
"The Basket at the Door": The Foundling Asylums Open     129
"Out-Heroding Herod": The Foundlings and the Revolutionary     176
The End of the Foundling Asylums     200
Conclusion: The Foundling Disappears-Almost     226
Notes     243
Index     311
About the Author     319

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