States of Childhood: From the Junior Republic to the American Republic, 1895-1945

States of Childhood: From the Junior Republic to the American Republic, 1895-1945

by Jennifer S. Light


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A number of curious communities sprang up across the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: simulated cities, states, and nations in which children played the roles of legislators, police officers, bankers, journalists, shopkeepers, and other adults. They performed real work-passing laws, growing food, and constructing buildings, among other tasks -inside virtual worlds. In this book, Jennifer Light examines the phenomena of "junior republics" and argues that they marked the transition to a new kind of "sheltered" childhood for American youth. Banished from the labor force and public life, children inhabited worlds that mirrored the one they had left.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262539012
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 07/14/2020
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 572,789
Product dimensions: 7.06(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Jennifer S. Light is Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT, where she is Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology and Professor of Urban Studies and Planning. She is also Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Child Protection or Child Labor? 1

I Performing Adulthood

1 The Smallest Republic in the World 21

2 Stages of Childhood 51

II The Rhetoric and Reality of Child Protection

3 Constructing Youth, Constructing Youth-Serving Institutions 89

4 The Drama of the Street 127

III From Models and Dramatizations to Education and Recreation

5 Serving Community and Nation 165

6 Expanding and Erasing the Republic Idea 201

Conclusion: The Legacies of William R. George 239

Epilogue: What Happened to Junior Republics? 253

Notes 257

Index 453

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