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Age of the Child: Children in America 1890-1920

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At the dawn of the twentieth century, progressive reformers optimistically heralded the coming age as "the century of the child." They proclaimed that every young person should have a sheltered and dependent childhood in which they were nurtured by a loving mother and supported by a hard-working father. Yet across much of the United States rival modes of childhood prevailed. Farm children and working-class urban youths shared the cramped housing and restricted incomes of their elders, often serving as vital ...
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Overview

At the dawn of the twentieth century, progressive reformers optimistically heralded the coming age as "the century of the child." They proclaimed that every young person should have a sheltered and dependent childhood in which they were nurtured by a loving mother and supported by a hard-working father. Yet across much of the United States rival modes of childhood prevailed. Farm children and working-class urban youths shared the cramped housing and restricted incomes of their elders, often serving as vital contributors to the family economy. To the dismay of reformers, city children often lagged behind in school and yet displayed precocious independence on the streets. The Age of the Child vividly reinterprets much of progressive reform as a tug-of-war against rival forms of childhood. More than a history of reform, though, this is a story of varied lives in an era that is just now passing out of living memory. It tells how gender, age, race, ethnicity, social class, and region, as well as urban or rural residence not only limited or enhanced opportunities, but sometimes determined life or death. Macleod examines how changing economic, social, and cultural possibilities could dramatically alter children's life chances. Unlike many histories of childhood, this volume carefully distinguishes between the experiences of boys and girls. Distilling recent scholarship in social history. The Age of the Child goes beyond the traditional emphasis of progressive-era historiography on the urban North and gives equal weight to rural southern and midwestern childhoods.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Macleod (history, Central Michigan U.) interprets much of the period's progressive reform movement as a tug-of-war between visions and aspiration of sheltered and cherished children, and the cramped housing and poverty of a growing number of both urban and rural children. He finds that despite their failures, the reformers left a legacy of ideals and institutions that still survives. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Series Editors' Note
Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Childhood: Settings and Contexts 1
2 Infancy and Early Childhood 32
3 Later Childhood: Schooling 75
4 Later Childhood: Work, Play, and Values 101
5 Adolescence as Extended Childhood 139
Chronology 153
Notes 156
Bibliographic Essay 197
Index 203
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