Citizen, Mother, Worker: Debating Public Responsibility for Child Care after the Second World War / Edition 1

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Overview

During World War II, American women entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers, and many of them relied on federally funded child care programs. At the end of the war, working mothers vigorously protested the termination of child care subsidies. In Citizen, Mother, Worker, Emilie Stoltzfus traces grassroots activism and national and local policy debates concerning public funding of children's day care in the two decades after the end of World War II.

Using events in Cleveland, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; and the state of California, Stoltzfus identifies a prevailing belief among postwar policymakers that women could best serve the nation as homemakers. Although federal funding was briefly extended after the end of the war, grassroots campaigns for subsidized day care in Cleveland and Washington met with only limited success. In California, however, mothers asserted their importance to the state's economy as "productive citizens" and won a permanent, state-funded child care program. In addition, by the 1960s, federal child care funding gained new life as an alternative to cash aid for poor single mothers.

These debates about the public's stake in what many viewed as a private matter help illuminate America's changing social, political, and fiscal priorities, as well as the meaning of female citizenship in the postwar period.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Exhaustively researched. . . . [An] incredibly compelling read."
Left History

"Represents a useful addition to our historical assessment of women's resistance to an inflexible and unrealistic ideological prescription to stay home. . . . A solid reminder of the difficulties that women face in attempting to reconcile their commitment to the family with their economic need and social right to work."
American Historical Review

By uncovering alternative discourses about motherhood and work and recovering the mobilization by women for child care after Rosie left riveting, Stoltzfus shows the early postwar years to be a far more contested period than generally remembered. (Eileen Boris, University of California, Riverside)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807854853
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/2003
  • Series: Gender and American Culture Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Emilie Stoltzfus is an analyst in social legislation at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Citizenship and Child Care 1
Ch. 1 Mothers and Work: The Federal Government, Women's Postwar Wage-Earning Status, and Child Care Provision 17
Ch. 2 Recasting Motherhood: The Early Postwar Battle for Publicly Funded Day Care in Cleveland 45
Ch. 3 Determining the Deserving: Day Care as a Public Charity in the District of Columbia, 1945-1950 89
Ch. 4 Achieving a Permanent Peacetime Home: Preschool Education and Productive Citizenship in the California Child Care Debates, 1945-1957 137
Ch. 5 Responding to the Increased Employment of Mothers: From the Rise of Commercial Child Care to the Enactment of Early Welfare Reform, 1950-1965 197
Epilogue 239
Notes 241
Bibliography 303
Index 325
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2004

    A different time

    Stoltzfus studies the roughly twenty years after World War 2, and the social attitudes in the United States towards women, in that time. She found that picking the topic of whether a government (federal or state) should offer child care to women in the workforce was a good focal point. It let her study the women's efforts to get this maintained after the war years, when it was introduced as an emergency measure. Plus, the reactions of the lobbied politicians and bureaucrats were typical of the prevailing social attitudes towards working women. It really has not been that many years ago. Yet the echoes from these pages makes it seem like another era. Probably it was. When any employer could fire a female employee soley because she got married, or pregnant, with any risk of opprobrium. The book also goes into the intertwining of the child care issue with that of race. How, in this pre-civil rights time, many women who had to work were Negro. Which naturally made harder the lobbying of white legislators.

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