CHC Episode 11: Relation and Belonging

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Audio of Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Mona Gleason” open=”1″ style=”2″]
audio-file-16Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Mona Gleason, part 1 (.mp3)
Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Mona Gleason, part 2 (.mp3)

[gn_spoiler title=”Conversation Transcript” open=”0″ style=”2″]
Transcript coming soon!

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to download a PDF of CHC Episode 11
This June 24-26, between 230 and 250 delegates will meet at the University of British Columbia for the 8th biennial conference of the Society for the History of Children and Youth. I discussed the conference with Mona Gleason, incoming President of the Society, who chaired the Organizing Committee (which included her UBC colleagues Tamara Meyers and Leslie Paris).
UBC campus at duskWhen Mona reflected the call for sessions organized around the theme of belonging and relationships, she explained that the University rests on Point Greyunceded, ancestral lands of the Musqueam people. British Columbia (despite what its name announces to the neighbouring U.S. state – Washington) is a place where the negotiation of sovereignty – between diverse peoples and with the land itself – is ongoing. Settlement is not settled in Canada. This produces a way of being in “relationship” that troubles fixed, imperial, uniform notions of nationalism. The conference organizers hoped to call forth historical work that explores the ways children and youth have confronted and helped fashion such a world: global, multi-cultural, liminal, unstable, transnational.

The three-day conference will offer about 60 sessions vetted by a committee of Marcia Chatelain (Georgetown University), Shurlee Swain (Australian Catholic University), Judith Lind (Linköping University), David Pomfret, (University of Hong Kong), and Ishita Pande (Queen’s University). As I looked over Preliminary-Program-SHCY-2015-March-24-201512.pdf, and considered Mona’s explanation of the conference theme, I saw its initial impact. While we will have plenty of topical variety, words like migration, colonialism, empire, transnational, global, citizenship, becoming, mobilization, representation, relation, memory, negotiation, identity, reciprocity, and performance fill the titles. The keynote lecturer – Karen Dubinsky – is well-situated to address these terms and concepts. She is author and editor of numerous books, including the 2010 Babies without Borders: Adoption and Migration Across the Americas (Univ. of Toronto) and the collection with Adele Perry and Henry Yu Within and Without the Nation: Transnational Canadian History (Univ. of Toronto, 2015).

In addition to the academic content of the sessions, Mona, Tamara, and Leslie thought about other ways the conference might help build relationships between scholars. Of course, we will have 1/2-hour coffee breaks between sessions, an evening reception on Wednesday, the Society business meeting during lunch on Thursday, and a conference Banquet on Thursday night. But, a couple of new events will appear too. Following the Banquet, we’ll have a dance — that — ought to be entertaining. There will also be a “join SHCY” luncheon on Friday where Jim Marten will provide an update on the Journal for the History of Childhood and Youth.

Friday’s luncheon responds to one of the Society’s ongoing challenges – maintaining membership. It confronts all scholarly organizations. Our ability to run the journal, hold conferences, provide prizes for excellent work, collaborate with other organizations, and assist graduate students rests upon attracting dues-paying members. I asked Mona about other things she would like to put on the Society’s agenda as she begins her tenure as President. She named three: inviting/developing new leaders, establishing policies around endorsements, and creating a guide for conference planning. You can listen to our conversation above.

Aerial photo of UBC campusAs I write this report in a still-frozen Ontario March, with the coldest February on record chattering in my bones, I admit that some of my plans for SHCY-2015 are decidedly unprofessional. How pleasant will the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest be? From afar the UBC campus seems to be surrounded by lush parks, misty trails, sandy beaches, and (moving) water. Perhaps I’ll take a walk through the Nitobe Memorial Gardens on campus. The UBC Bike Kitchen rents bicycles, but runners might want to scout-out courses along nearby Jericho Beach or take a jog through Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Mona recommended visiting the University’s renowned Museum of Anthropology.

Beyond the campus, metropolitan Vancouver offers numerous opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and other adventures. You might even come across urban bald eagles if you take a stroll through beautiful Stanley Park, which boasts 400-hectares of rainforest, beaches, waterfront vistas, and more.

Photo of Vancouver skylineDowntown is a short 20-minute drive or 40-minute bus-ride from campus. It offers a variety of excellent restaurants, including the Bluewater Cafe + Raw Bar (Seafood), Chef Tony Seafood (Chinese), My Shanti (Indian), Mr. Red Cafe (Vietnamese), Absinthe Bistro (French), and Ask for Luigi (Italian). On your way downtown, you might visit Granville Island – an industrial site revamped for tourism – offering a farmer’s market, craft vendors, shops, galleries, and other entertainments.

Make your plans, extend your stay if you can, and consider becoming part of the Society.


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CFP: International Girls Studies Association’s Inaugural Conference

The International Girls’ Studies Association are seeking submissions for our inaugural conference from April 7 – 9th 2016 at the University of East Anglia. The inaugural conference seeks to bring together researchers and students working on girls and girlhood in any part of the world and in any discipline or interdisciplinary field.

Girls’ Studies has become one of the most dynamic academic fields, encompassing a vast array of disciplines and interdisciplinary approaches. This conference aims to bring together scholars from across the world to explore experiences of girlhood, recent developments within the field, investigating new questions and revisiting historical issues.

We seek proposals that address some of the key issues in girls studies and we welcome both individual and panel presentations. Moreover, we are also keen to move beyond the traditional conference format and would encourage collaborative work, creative, visual, screenings and performance based work. We are also keen to invite proposals from individuals working in collaboration with girls, the community and partner organisations.

Topics may include (but are not limited to)
· Histories of girlhood
· Global girlhood(s)
· Intersectional girlhood
· Queer girls
· Representation of girlhood
· Intergenerational girlhoods
· Girlhood and consumption
· Mediated girlhoods
· Methodological approaches to girls’ studies
· Girls and feminism
· Girls and sport
· Girls and politics
· Girls and education
· Young femininities
· Body image
· Subcultures and girlhood
· Girls and digital media
· Girls and activism
· Girls and literature
· Girls and popular culture
· Girlhood during austerity
· Girls and sexuality
· Girls and health
· Neoliberal girlhoods
· Ethnographies of girlhood

Abstracts of 250 words, proposals for pre-constituted panels (250 words per panellist) and proposals for creative and alternative presentations (250 words) should be sent to by 1st September 2015. All submissions should be accompanied by brief bio.

Any questions or queries can be sent to

Current Members Only: 2015 SHCY Election

The 2015 SHCY election is now open and will close at 11:59 pm EST on 30 April, 2015. Votes should be submitted electronically, using the survey-monkey form linked here. The site also provides the names and brief biographies of the 2015 candidates.

Votes may be submitted for six positions in total:
Vice-President/President Elect
Four “at large” members of the Executive Committee
Graduate Student Representative

The elected incoming Executive Committee members will replace the following Current members of the Executive Committee whose terms expire at the 2015 conference in Vancouver:

Caroline Cox
Michael Grossberg
Colin Heywood
Rebecca de Schweinitz
Susan Ecklemann (Graduate Student Representative)

SHCY thanks these members for their leadership service to the organization.

Please note that the final election results will take into account SHCY’s bylaws encouraging geographic diversity for at-large membership on the executive committee. “No more than three at large members of the executive committee (not including the graduate student representative) can reside in the same country during any two-year period.”

CFP: Special Issue of Gender Issues on Girls’ Studies

A special issue of Gender Issues is now open for submission of articles by those conducting original applied research to the field of girls’ studies. We seek articles that unravel the constructions of girlhood and invite a critical discussion of issues including but not limited to: health, social justice, and well being; sites of social, political, and community action; trans and gender non-conforming girls; educating girls; sexuality and representations of girls; girls around the globe. Authors should including abstracts and brief bios. We would also welcome short book reviews that cover the field of girls’ studies. A general description of what the journal seeks to publish follows:

Gender Issues is multidisciplinary and cross-national in scope focusing on gender and gender equity. The journal publishes basic and applied research examining gender relationships as well as the impact of economic, legal, political, and social forces on those relationships across four domains:

  1. Understanding gender socialization, personality, and behavior in a gendered context.
  2. Exploring the wide range of relationships within the gender spectrum, such as acquaintances, friendships, romantic, and professional relationships.
  3. Assessing the impact of economic, legal, political, and social changes on gender identity, expression, and gender relations.
  4. Interpreting the impact of economic, legal, political, and social changes on the aspirations, status and roles of people internationally.

Date for Submissions: October 1, 2015

Publication Date: June 2016

Inquires and submissions:

Authors should submit through the Editorial Manager system and note that this article should be saved for the “Girls Studies special issue”.

Gender Studies is published in print and online by Springer Publishing Company. From 1932-1980, Gender Studies was published under the title Feminist Issues. Please visit for further details. Special Attention should be paid to the “For Authors and Editors” section, which includes information about preparing the manuscript for submission. Past articles are also available to read online.

Guest Editor: Elaine J. O’Quinn is a Professor of English and affiliate faculty in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC where she helped develop a minor in Girls’ Studies. Her interests include girls and literacy, and her most recent publication on this topic is Girl’s Literacy Experiences In and Out of School: Learning and Composing Gendered Identities (Routledge 2013).

CHC Episode 10: By Birth or Consent

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Audio of Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Holly Brewer” open=”1″ style=”2″]
audio-file-16Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Holly Brewer, part 1
Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Holly Brewer, part 2

[gn_spoiler title=”Conversation Transcript” open=”0″ style=”2″]
Transcript coming soon!

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to download a PDF of CHC Episode 10
This episode of CHC offers a conversation with Holly Brewer at the ten-year anniversary of her prize-winning book, By Birth or Consent: Children, Law, and the Anglo-American Revolution in Authority.

By Birth or Consent cover artHolly Brewer placed ideas about childhood and age at the center of the rise of modern, democratic political culture. It seems to me that her arguments about Anglo-American law are consistent Bernard Wishy’s and Jacqueline Reinier’s earlier work relating childhood to American liberal ideas. Clearly, there is a strong connection between the issues raised in By Birth and Consent and those of Corinne Field’s recent The Struggle for Equal Adulthood. See CHC Ep6.

During our discussion, we shared observations about the historical significance of age and childhood. Holly offered several stories about the initial difficulties she faced doing graduate work on children and the law during her doctoral studies at UCLA from 1987-1994. When she was defending the prospectus for her dissertation, Gary Nash said something to the effect of… “You’re right… nobody has asked… whether these political theory debates have anything to do with the lives of real children in the 17th- and the 18th-centuries, but maybe there is nothing to find. Maybe it is just a ridiculous question, and a kind of worthless one.”

Holly asks us to think about why would there be “blindness” on the part of social historians to the shifting, non universal character of childhood. She believes that the habits encouraged by “demographic and sociological techniques” fostered an inability to recognize the practices of pre-modern childhood. I added that current institutions are permeated with age-grading, and that it has become part of how we have attacked other forms of inequity and exclusion – those based on gender, race, class, etc.   Not only has age-grading become the ‘natural’ and invisible hierarchy, but as By Birth or Consent shows, liberal political and legal culture was produced (at least in part) through a new, universal distinction between the consenting adult and the dependent, developing child. Seeing childhood historically might destabilize a cornerstone of modern consensus about what constitutes a free and democratic society.

While discussing some of the detailed arguments within By Birth or Consent, I asked how she handled formalized texts such as legal treatises. What could they have to tell us about childhood as part of a living sensibility and practice for ordinary people? Holly argued that the realms of children and adults, everyday life and formal texts, the ideas of ordinary people and educated elites are “connected at so many different points.” If historians are unstudied in difficult, sometimes arcane discourses and languages they will do “a deeply problematic social history where you’re using modern conceptions [and reading them into] the 17th and 18th centuries, you’re putting our words in place of theirs…” She argued persuasively that a history from the bottom-up doesn’t need to be a history from the neck down.

We concluded by discussing her current book project on slavery, monarchy, and inheritance. Before the rise of a late-18th-century abolition movement, slavery was discussed more widely among the English than most of us understand. She explained that the promotion and growth of American slavery was less a necessary part of the pursuit of yeoman independence, than it was encouraged by the royal absolutism of the Stuart monarchs trying to build a British Empire. This line of argument draws upon the idea that patriarchal forms of inheritance were stronger in early America than historians have typically acknowledged.


Select Articles and Chapters by Holly Brewer:

“Entailing Aristocracy in Colonial Virginia: ‘Ancient Feudal Restraints’ and Revolutionary Reform,” William and Mary Quarterly vol. 54, no. 2 (April 1997): 307-346.

“Power and Authority in the Colonial South: The English Legacy and Its Contradictions,” in Britain and the American South: From Colonialism to Rock and Roll (University Press of Mississippi, 2003): 27-52.

“Apprenticeship Policy in Virginia: From Patriarchal to Republican Policies of Social Welfare,” in Children Bound to Labor: The Pauper Apprentice System in Early America edited by Ruth Wallis Herndon and John E. Murray (Cornell University Press, 2009): 183-198.

“Age of Reason? Children, Testimony, and Consent in Early America,” in The Many Legalities of Early America edited by Christopher Tomlins and Bruce Mann (University of North Carolina Press, 2012): 293-332.

“Subjects by Allegiance to the King? Debating Status and Power for Subjects -and Slaves- through the Religious Debates of the Early British Atlantic,” in State and Citizen: British America and the Early United States edited by Peter Thompson and Peter S. Onuf (University of Virginia Press, 2013): 25-51.


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CFProposals: AHA 2016

The SHCY Outreach Committee is accepting proposals for possible sessions at the next American Historical Association conference (to be held in Atlanta, GA, Jan. 7-10, 2016). As an AHA Affiliate, SHCY is able to sponsor sessions at the organization’s annual conference. Affiliate-sponsored sessions convene at the regular conference venues and appear on the AHA program.​ We are especially interested in sponsoring sessions that examine the history of childhood and youth across a global landscape, sessions that address the state of the field, and sessions that focus on teaching the history of children and youth in both national and world survey courses. All proposed panelists need to be members of SHCY. Members of SHCY outside the United States are welcome to participate in SHCY-sponsored AHA sessions.

Please submit proposals by May 1, 2015 to Rebecca de Schweinitz at

CHC Episode 9: The Challenges of Childhood History

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to download a PDF of CHC Episode 9

Tessa Chynoweth and Catherine Rose - conveners of "Challenges of the History of Childhood," January 16, 2015 - Queen Mary University of London.
Tessa Chynoweth and Catherine Rose – conveners of “Challenges of the History of Childhood,” January 16, 2015 – Queen Mary University of London.

This episode of CHC offers video recordings of the two keynote addresses delivered January 16, 2015 at “Challenges of the History of Childhood” hosted by Queen Mary University of London. [Challenges in the History of Childhood Program PDF]

The meeting was organized by Catherine Rose and Tessa Chynoweth. It brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to share ideas about common problems facing the historical study of childhood. The one-day event offered 14 papers dealing broadly with the relationships between ideas and lived experience within the field. It called for a discussion of memory, interdisciplinarity, the historicity of age, cultural comparison, institutional space, and the significance of historical research on childhood.

Pooley Keynote Lecture

In “Children’s writing and subjectivity in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century England,” Siȃn Pooley provided a close reading of children’s contributions to and correspondence with late-19th/early-20th century periodicals and their editors. She explores children’s writing, family relations, public presence, and the production of the self to pose questions about agency, power, and causality.

Click here to access an audio recording synced with slides from Pooley’s keynote lecture.

Select Publications by Sian Pooley:

“Children’s writing and the popular press in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century England,” History Workshop Journal 80 (forthcoming 2015)

“‘Leagues of Love’ and ‘Column Comrades’: Children’s Responses to War in late-Victorian and Edwardian England,” in L. Paul and R. Johnston (eds), Approaching War: Childhood, Culture and the First World War, ed. by L. Paul and R. Johnston (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming)

Co-edited with K. Qureshi, Parenthood Between Generations: Transforming Reproductive Cultures (Berghahn: Oxford, forthcoming)

“Parenthood, child-rearing and fertility in England, 1850-1914,” History of the Family, 18:1 (2013), pp. 83-106.

“‘All we parents want is that our children’s health and lives should be regarded’: child health and parental concern in England, c.1860-1910,” Social History of Medicine, 23:3, (2010), pp. 528-48.

Co-edited with C.G. Pooley and R. Lawton, The diary of Elizabeth Lee: growing up on Merseyside in the late nineteenth century (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010).

“Domestic servants and their urban employers: a case study of Lancaster 1880-1914,” Economic History Review, 62: 2 (2009), pp. 405-29.

Newton Keynote Lecture

In “Voices of Sick Children: Challenges and Solutions in the History of Childhood,” Hannah Newton explored five major issues:
(1) a lack of written records by children;
(2) the temptation to assess authenticity of past children’s actions based on the present;
(3) the difficulty of assessing emotions and pain of persons in the past;
(4) urge to make ethical judgments about past practices;
(5) lack of evidence regarding poor children.

Click here to view a video recording of Newton’s keynote lecture.

Click here to view the slide show to follow along with Newton’s lecture.

Special Note: The Powerpoint presentation for Newton’s talk has not been sync’d with the video recording (nor were we able to create a ‘split-screen’ presentation). If you open both links in separate windows, and use the pause button to halt the slides as necessary, you should be able to follow along nicely.

Select Publications by Hannah Newton:

“‘Nature Concocts & Expels’: The Agents and Processes of Recovery from Disease in Early Modern England” (forthcoming) in Social History of Medicine (2015).

The Sick Child in Early Modern England, 1580–1720 (Oxford University Press, 2012; paperback 2014)

“The Sick Child in Early Modern England,” Endeavour, 38 (2014), 122–29.

“Children’s Physic: Medical Perceptions and Treatment of Sick Children in Early Modern England, c. 1580–1720,” Social History of Medicine, 23 (2010), 456–74. (open access)

“‘Very Sore Nights & Days”: The Child’s Experience of Illness in Early Modern England, c. 1580–1720,” Medical History, 55 (2011), 153–182. (open access)

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CHC Episode 8: Nailing Jelly to a Wall

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Audio of Patrick Ryan’s Conversation with James Marten” open=”1″ style=”2″]
audio-file-16Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with James Marten, part 1 (.mp3)
Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with James Marten, part 2 (.mp3)

[gn_spoiler title=”Conversation Transcript” open=”0″ style=”2″]
Transcript coming soon!

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to download a PDF of CHC Episode 8
In 1998, I told Kris Lindenmeyer that I thought childhood was a secondary designation for historians. It had been ancillary to other fields for about a half-century. At that juncture, I was unconvinced that a network on H-Net dedicated only to the historical study of childhood would be viable. We should consider linking it with related areas of interest. Kris disagreed. She was recruiting me to help her start H-Childhood, and she was sure it would be a mistake to explicitly pair a network in childhood history with closely associated areas like families, social policy, or education. I do not recall her arguments in detail, but she may have seen that adding another category would shrink the pool of potential subscribers by excluding those with interests outside of whatever area we chose.

I still think the study of childhood is a secondary designation for most of us, and the ways that the new technologies altered the implications of this fact are unsettled. Oh, some developments are obvious. The internet facilitated collaboration beyond traditional geographic limits in ways that encouraged specialization. You might be one of a few scholars interested in studying childhood historically in your locale, but that would mean there were thousands like you globally. Sixteen years later, H-Childhood continues to provide a means for about 1,700 scholars across the globe to communicate at the click of a button.

It is also clear today that “networking” scholars might facilitate interest in a topic, but it is not the same thing as creating a coherent field of study. Early in the life of H-Net, there was a hope that the new technology might provide an alternative to academic conferences, journals, and societies. Might it be possible to hold virtual meetings and generate scholarly discourse that was more open, free, frequent, and dynamic? This vision has yet to be fulfilled. Scholarship continues to depend upon enclosed, costly, slow-paced, quiet, solitary labour. Email lists, websites, twitter feeds (and what have you) lack key features of personal presence and thoughtful debate. Travel, face-to-face relationships are especially important for a long-distance scholarly community.

This said, H-Childhood seems to have facilitated a wider set of activities. It helped a small group of historians (who met in Baltimore in 2000) to reach hundreds of colleagues across disciplines and outside of the United States to hold a childhood history conference at Marquette University in 2001. This became the founding meeting of the Society for the History of Children and Youth.

The Society’s biennial conferences never struggled to field panels. Today they include 220-250 papers and have been held on both coasts of the U.S., Sweden, and England; in 2015 SHCY will visit Vancouver, British Columbia. The current 320 dues-paying members live in twenty-three countries (although 183 are concentrated in the U.S. with another 60 residing in Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand).

Like H-Childhood, SHCY has pursued an interdisciplinary, international, and topically diverse membership in an academic context that remains disciplinary, national, methodologically specialized. The tension between these poles is obvious in a simple recounting of the Society’s early leadership. SHCY‘s first three Presidents and its first three program committee chairs were all Americanists with primary training in the 19th and early 20th-century social history (Kris Lindenmeyer, Ray Hiner, Joe Hawes, Jim Marten, Paula Fass, and Julia Grant). Nevertheless, the first conferences succeeded in reaching outside this area of concentration. They were strongly attended by Canadians and Scandinavians – and to a lesser extent – by scholars outside of social history. If my memory serves, Bengt Sandin was one among a number of leaders (notably supported by Paula Fass) who encouraged SHCY to amend its mission statement, formally re-structure its executive board, and plan its conferences to promote the study of childhood historically across temporal, geographic, national, and disciplinary boundaries after 2005.

In my view, explicit internationalism has made SHCY‘s conferences more interesting and compelling. Casting the net wide also must have helped the meetings reach a critical mass of attendees.

issue cover artIn just a few years, SHCY demonstrated that childhood history would attract numbers adequate to support an academic periodical. A group of scholars mostly based near Amherst, Massachusetts (Karen Sánchez-Eppler, Martha Saxton, Laura Lovett, Brian Bunk, and Jon Pahl) formed the first editorial team for the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth in 2008. The editors’ were themselves a diverse group with multi-disciplinary designations: a scholar of 19th-century literature, two historians of women, an expert on modern Spanish popular culture and sport, and professor of Christian theology and religious history. So too, the executive board of JHCY included members located across North America, Europe, and Australia with expertise in American, Canadian, European, Asian, and Australian history.

The founders of the Journal were willing to experiment. They formed an editorial “collective” with a rotating chief. In retrospect, this non-hierarchical editorial structure seems consistent with the diffusion of historical research on childhood. Each issue came with its own introductory statement authored by the standing Editor. None of the first editors claimed childhood as their primary scholarly designation (and they still don’t); childhood was and is “an interest” for most studying it historically. The articles offered a wide temporal, geographic, cultural, and topical range, and explored childhood from multiple disciplines with theoretically diverse assumptions. Each issue began with an “object lesson” – short presentations of cultural productions that were suited to classroom use. Every number included a piece on contemporary childhood policy. If there was a thematic volume, say on children’s rights or schooling, more than one geographic area and/or vastly different periods of time would be represented. Even the cover art on every issue sported three images, rather than one. All and everything childhood was welcome.

The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth has been the most important organizational accomplishment within childhood historical study. I remain impressed by the ongoing growth of academic programs, conferences, and networks dedicated to the area. Yet, I wonder about intellectual coherence in an era that combines globalization and specialization. Peter Novick once wrote that making history is like nailing jelly to a wall (a structure framed by disciplinary standards or a given school of thought); maybe the emergent field of childhood history was possible precisely because we were willing to forgo walls. Has the result been something like a hammer striking jelly in freefall?

I admit this is more of a provocation, than a question. But these thoughts encouraged me to ask Jim Marten, the current President of SHCY and new Editor of JHCY, about how he understands the challenges of the temporal, geographic, and methodological diversity of childhood history.

Jim described his own path toward the study of childhood as something that was ancillary to his primary training as an history of the American Civil War. We discussed how this part of his background is aligned with general features of the emergence of childhood history. Our conversation moved into an extended discussion of how he approaches his duties as editor. He emphasized that he wants the journal to advance historically significant work upon childhood and youth. Pursuing this priority is complicated in an interdisciplinary area that attempts to cast wide methodological, geographic, and chronological nets. Yet, this vast scope is part of why the journal and the conferences are bolstered by strong participation from a diverse range of scholars.

Toward the conclusion of the conversation Jim extolled the intensity of the intellectual exchange at the conferences. However, he expressed two concerns: (1) will we maintain an adequate number of dues paying members and (2) can we develop a group of new leaders for the society over the next decade? He suggested that SHCY may be having difficulty maintaining membership consistent with the numbers we field at conferences and on H-Childhood, because research in the field exists in-between and as an extension of so many diverse and distinct interests and topics. Childhood study remains a secondary identification. This makes it more difficult for SHCY to compete for paying members.

Interesting, isn’t it? The development of a specialization in childhood history became possible because we made a concerted effort to collaborate across important boundaries; but, these boundaries have remained paramount and may inhibit the growth of the organizations that serve childhood history. I am not particularly troubled by this state of affairs. But, it may be useful for those studying childhood historically to try to understand it. Listen to our recorded conversation above.


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Call for Nominations: 2015 Grace Abbott Book Prize

The Society for the History of Children and Youth (SHCY) is pleased to call for nominations for the best book published in English on the history of children, childhood, or youth (broadly construed) published in 2014.

The award of a plaque and a check for $500 will be made by mid-summer 2015.

Nominations are invited from publishers, editors, scholars, and authors. Current members of the SHCY award committee, the executive committee, and officers of the society are ineligible. Nominations must be postmarked by April 15, 2015.

Send a copy of the book, physical or electronic (PDF only), for consideration to each of the book award committee members at the following addresses:

Ben Keppel (Chair)
Department of History
University of Oklahoma
455 West Lindsey Street, Suite 403A
Norman OK 73019

Kristine Alexander
Department of History
The University of Lethbridge
4401 University Drive
Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4

Luke Springman
Office of Global Education
Room 234, Student Services Center
Bloomsburg University
400 East Second Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815-1301

Call for Nominations: Fass-Sandin Prize for the best article (in English)

The Society for the History of Children and Youth (SHCY) is pleased to call for nominations for the best article in English on the history of children, childhood, or youth (broadly construed) published in 2014 in a print or online journal. The prize consists of a plaque and a check for $250. The winner will be announced no later than mid-summer.

Nominations are invited from publishers, editors, scholars, and authors. Current members of the SHCY award committee, the executive committee, and officers of the society are ineligible.

Send a PDF or photocopy of the article to James Marten at The deadline for nominations is April 15, 2014.

The committee is comprised of:

Simon Sleight (chair), King’s College, London

Corrie Decker, UC-Davis

Corinne Field, University of Virginia

Guest Post: Shurlee Swain on Networking, Interdisciplinarity, and the SHCY

Shurlee Swain is Professor in the Faculty of Education and the Arts and Australian Catholic University. A long-time and active member of the SHCY, her most recent book is The Market in Children: Stories of Australian Adoption (2013). She is guest editor of the forthcoming special issue of the JHCY.

Although the organizational history of children’s institutions has been well documented, there has been less space in the academic sphere for exploring the experience of those who grew up within their walls. The forthcoming issue of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth is a first step towards filling this gap.

The special issue brings together papers presented at the 2013 SHCY conference in Nottingham which shared an interest in the history of children in out-of-home care. At its core are a group of scholars whose work has been shaped by their involvement in the inquiries into institutional abuse that have taken place in many Western countries over the last two decades. In such inquiries it is the voice of the victim/survivor that is given precedence, a voice which often challenges the ways in which the history of institutional care has been written in the past. SHCY conferences have provided a valuable networking space for those who work in this area leading to the development of an International Network on Studies of Inquiries into Child Abuse, Politics of Apology and Historical Representations of Children in Out-of home Care which, with Swedish funding, is now able to hold meetings of its own.

In the special issue you will find papers by Johanna Sköld, founder of the Inquiry Network and a researcher on the Swedish national inquiry, Maria Rytter and Jacob Knage Rasmussen, who conducted the Danish inquiry, Kjersti Ericsson who has closely observed the inquiry and reparation process in Norway, and Shurlee Swain and Nell Musgrove who have worked on projects funded in the aftermath of similar inquiries in Australia. They are joined by Lieselot De Wilde and Bruno Vanobbergen whose study of the orphan houses in Ghent, Belgium, began independently from any national inquiry but has been profoundly influenced by the demands of former orphanage residents that their voices be heard. It is such voices that Kathleen Vongsathorn would like to be able to access in her article on the Kumi Children’s Leper Home in Uganda but in their absence she interrogates the surviving sources to identify the gaps and silences which hide the children’s experiences from view. The victim/survivor voice that emerges through inquiries is predominantly negative. In this context, the article by Birgitte Søland provides a useful corrective. Working in the United States, where no national inquiries have taken place, her interviews with former orphanage residents tap the positive memories which struggle to find a place where the focus is on past abuse.

The appearance of the special issue on the eve of the SHCY conference in Vancouver is timely, emphasizing the valuable networking opportunity that the conference provides. Several of the contributors will present papers at the conference so if you have an interest in the history of children in out of home care we look forward to meeting you there!

CHC Episode 7: The Examined Life

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Audio of Patrick Ryan’s Conversation with Ansgar Allen” open=”1″ style=”2″]
audio-file-16Part 1 of Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Ansgar Allen (.mp3)
Part 2 of Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Ansgar Allen (.mp3)

[gn_spoiler title=”Conversation Transcript” open=”0″ style=”2″]
Transcript coming soon!

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to download a PDF of CHC Episode 7
This episode of CHC offers a conversation with Ansgar Allen, author of the recently published Benign Violence: Education in and Beyond the Age of Reason. book cover art

Ansgar Allen began this project with a desire to attack the most mechanistic, instrumental aspects of schooling. Along the way he concluded that this orientation, which might be called ‘ideology critique,’ made it more difficult to maintain a critical stance upon practices that are – purportedly – child-centered.1 He also came to doubt whether the various elements of schooling could be self-consciously sorted-out for improvement. In our conversation, he explained that “examination basically constitutes us.” We have to inhabit it, even as we may do so unwillingly. “We are made up of its procedures and ways of thinking. It’s got a logic that is already well-embedded within us… It’s made us what we are.” In this sense, Benign Violence offers what Michel Foucault once described as “an historical ontology of ourselves.”2 Such a work does not free us from the logic of examination, but might help us gain a better sense of its sources and operations.

In Benign Violence, the comparison of two types of 19th-century English schools (moral training schools and monitorial schools) does the most to disturb the assumption that humanistic forms of schooling are ‘good’ while their mechanistic counterparts are ‘bad.’ The chief architects of monitorial techniques were Andrew Bell and Joseph Lancaster, and much has been written about their institutions. The “moral training schools” are not as well-defined or understood by historians. In Britain, these schools were founded or inspired by James Kay-Shuttleworth, David Stow, the Glasgow Educational Society, and the advent of normal school training for teachers. It seems to me, both of these threads of educational discourse were present in the American Sunday School movement. The moral training schools were related to the child-centered pedagogical writings and practices of leaders such as Montessori, Steiner, and later – Dewey, Maslow and Rogers.

The Foucauldian concept of disciplinary power (its components of hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment, and examination) have been convincingly used to analyze monitorial school practices.3 Allen’s work confirms earlier studies, but Benign Violence also uses the Foucauldian concept of “pastoral power” and Foucault’s discussion of confessional relationships to develop an equally troubling stories of the way capturing children’s play has been used with more intimate pedagogical methods to institute moral training.4

Benign Violence questions the standard dualisms between humanistic and bureaucratic methods of education, for example, as it is typically delivered in the debate over standardization testing. Ansgar deliberately plays with the Socratic phrase “the examined life” to narrow the comforting space between high-minded educational ideals and the dual deployment of teachers as confessors and the mechanistic sorting of large numbers of children into various tracks. I challenged him on this point. Isn’t there a difference between the types of “souls” (to use both the Foucauldian concept and the ancient word) fostered through a cultural of disputation, and those likely to be produced in the factory of multiple-choice testing or the vast architecture of diagnostic categories? He acknowledged that this probably was a important distinction, but insisted that these various strands are wrapped around each other in current and past practice.

Ansgar also defended his playful use of the phrase “the examined life,” because it is part of a larger attempt to unsettle the academic’s superior position in the analysis of schooling. When I contrasted the negative pressure that processing large numbers of students places on the our ability to assign and mark student writing, he encouraged me to be “equally suspicious of the academic essay.” Indeed, this critique of the formal essay is embodied in the book. Benign Violence is not a standard monograph. It purposefully violates genre expectations. The text breaks and then flows again beautifully. There is something of the spirit of Gilles Deleuze working. At points, the subject is displaced so entirely that one cannot determine where precisely the object lay. This is not how Strunk and White taught us to write. As Ansgar explained:

“With academic style, typically it’s very precise… …The academic is doing everything they can to minimize the amount of interpretation that is necessary in order to decipher what they’re saying. If they’ve got a statement or critique they will do everything they can to show you exactly what they mean, who they are talking about when they are levelling their critique and so on… I can be precise, if I want…but if you can see that I am attacking something in education, [but] you’re not quite sure where my attack is located and so (hopefully) you start to wonder: am I attacking you? You wouldn’t think that, necessarily, if I was giving you a more straightforward academic argument. Because, you would either be able to say: “Oh, he is attacking me. I reject that.” Or you’d be able to say: “Oh he is attacking them.” And you’d either reject it or feel like you are coming along with the author…. “ya, ya, he’s right. Agree.” You become complicit with the critique. You assent to it. I don’t want that… so I’m using different devices to disturb the process of reading.”

Benign Violence creates this type of disturbance for the reader. It is not something that is easily condensed or reiterated. Below is a list of some of the other thought-provoking writings of Ansgar Allen.

2 Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?” in The Foucault Reader edited by Paul Rabinow (New York, NY: Panteon Books, 1984): 32-50.
3 See David Hogan, “The Market Revolution and Disciplinary Power: Joseph Lancaster and the Psychology of the Early Classroom System,” History of Education Quarterly v. 29 n. 3 (Autumn 1989): 381-417; Ronald Rayman, “Joseph Lancaster’s Monitorial System of Instruction and American Indian Education, 1815-1838,” History of Education Quarterly vol. 21, no. 4 (Winter 1981): 395-409.
4 Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the College de France, 1977-1978. Trans. Graham Burchell (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).


Articles and Chapters by Ansgar Allen:

Allen, A. & Goddard, R. (2014) “The domestication of Foucault: government, critique, war” History of the Human Sciences 27 (5), 26-53.

Allen, A. (2013) “The Examined Life: On the Formation of Souls and Schooling” American Educational Research Journal 50 (2), 216-250.

Allen, A. (2013) “The Idea of a World University”. In M. Murphy (ed) Social Theory and Educational Research, volume 4: Governance and Management: Performativity, audit cultures and accountability. pp. 23-38. London: Sage.

Allen, A. (2012) “Cultivating the myopic learner: the shared project of high and low-stakes assessment” British Journal of Sociology of Education 33 (5), 641-659.

Allen, A. (2012) “Life without the ‘x’ factor – meritocracy past and present” Power and Education 4 (1), 4-19.

Allen, A. (2011) “Michael Young’s The Rise of the Meritocracy: a Philosophical Critique” British Journal of Educational Studies 59(4), 367-382.


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CHC Episode 6: Childhood and Adulthood

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Audio of Patrick Ryan’s Conversation with Corinne T. Field” open=”1″ style=”2″]
audio-file-16Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Corinne T. Field

[gn_spoiler title=”Conversation Transcript” open=”0″ style=”2″]
Transcript coming soon!

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to download a PDF of CHC Episode 6
This episode of CHC offers a conversation with Corinne Field, author of the recently published The Struggle for Equal Adulthood.

book cover artField initially hoped to contribute to the study of 19th-century American feminists by examining how they confronted the dilemma of aging with dignity as women. She came to see that their understanding of this problem was inseparable from their use of the distinction between childhood and adulthood. They argued that the denial of women’s adulthood (their perpetual association with childhood) was a key cultural mechanism that underlay white-male privilege as a whole.

By reading closely for the ways feminists and abolitionists wrote, spoke, and organized to demand equal adulthood, Field was able to bring fresh insights to a well-research area of American history. The demand for equal adulthood was an important point of common ground between African-American and white feminist activists. But, the claim on adulthood could also be used to reinforce racial and gender hierarchies. If historians notice this part of 19th-century political writing, they are in a better position to grasp the divisions between and collaboration among diverse groups seeking citizenship. It also contributes to our reading of feminism as a body of thought. According to Field, the struggle for equal adulthood helped political writers think through the links between private relationships and political rights. The private-public distinction did not silence women’s dissent, but helped them conceptualize how power operated in politics and family life.

One of Field’s contributions to our understanding of the child-adult distinction has been to unpack the idea of maturity in 19th-century political writing. She found three dominant uses of the concept: (1) to position chronological age as a qualification for political rights; (2) to speak about how we navigate life as a voyage; (3) to make claims about proper family relations. In her book, Field documents how these variations were used to advocate for the equality of one group by excluding others from the position of full maturity.

Field suggests that historicizing maturity and adulthood (not allowing them to rest as natural “unmarked norm[s]”) might complement our exploration of childhood. It seems to me that this is one of the most important issues for us to consider: what is the relationship between adulthood and the history of childhood? In retrospect, I wish we could have spent more time discussing this issue. Parallel questions have arisen with the study of masculinity, whiteness, sexuality, and the middle-class over the past several decades.[1]

Social historians who study children may take a jaundice view of studying adulthood. Joe Hawes and Ray Hiner argued that children’s history should continue to be a “subaltern field that challenges the historical establishment’s almost exclusive concentration on adults and adulthood.” They asked if the field came to be “centered on adults and adulthood, [would] children once again [be] hidden from view?”[2]

I think posing the issue this way relies upon an assumption that the purpose of historical work is to demonstrate how diverse groups exercised agency and possessed experiences unique to them: history as a project of group identification.

An alternative would be to study childhood as discourse: structures of thought, feeling, practice. This would entail the premise that our senses of childhood (even when we are children) are always, already mediated by historically situated discourses. Reconstructing those discursive formations – to make them visible – becomes our task. From this perspective, ideas and emotions are not possessions of groups or individuals. They are produced by our engagement with discourse. This claim runs against the modern propensity to essentialize the human subject by positioning childhood in a pre-discursive space prior to culture. Scholars will forever debate these foundational issues, but many may agree that the equation of adulthood with rights of participation and self-determination (the struggle for equal adulthood) was a necessary condition for “children’s rights” to become limited to protection and care.[3]

If so, Field’s book deserves a reading.

In our conversation, we did not directly address the inherent tension between the social history of children and the history of childhood as discourse provoked by the study of adulthood.[4] But, we did discuss whether the importance of the child-adult distinction in 19th-century political thought might draw us to reconsider the thesis that the period lacked age-consciousness. Field pointed out that the state invoked age as a vehicle for defining access to citizenship, not only while other distinctions were under attack, but before there was a reliable apparatus for documenting how old people were. She thinks there is more work to be done on the link between political liberalism and age.[5]

We concluded with some thoughts about the present implications of Field’s concept of equal adulthood. She wondered if 19th-century feminist engagement with the problem of aging with dignity as women remains an unresolved dilemma in American economy and society. She referred to the unreasonable expectation the women retain youthful beauty, and highlighted the fact that the gender difference in earning power was located in the later decades of the life-cycle. In these senses the struggle for equal adulthood continues.

As I suggested above, Field’s concept of a struggle for equal adulthood has ironic implications for childhood policies: might the ideal of adult equality have created the terms for an intensified regulation of children and youth in the 20th-century? We might wonder if the struggle for equal adulthood helped create the setting for childhood rescue literature (CHC ep1), or the narrative of Irish childhood trauma (CHC ep3), or the development of the ADHD debate (CHC ep5).

Works by Corinne T. Field:

The Struggle for Equal Adulthood: Gender, Race, Age, and the Fight for Citizenship in Antebellum America. University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

Co-editor with Nicholas Syrett, Chronological Age in American History, Under contract at New York University Press.

“Frances E. W. Harper and the Politics of Intellectual Maturity,” in Black Women’s Intellectual and Cultural History, edited by Farah Griffin, Mia Bay, Martha Jones, and Barbara Savage. University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming 2015.

“‘Made Women of When They are Mere Children’: Mary Wollstonecraft’s Critique of Eighteenth-Century Girlhood,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth (Spring 2011): 197-222.

“‘Are Women . . . All Minors?’: Woman’s Rights and the Politics of Aging in the Antebellum United States,” Journal of Women’s History (Winter 2001): 113-137.

“Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Gendered Politics of Aging,” Iris: A Journal About Women (Spring 2001): 28-31.

“Breast-Feeding, Sexual Pleasure, and Women’s Rights: Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication.” Critical Matrix: The Princeton Journal of Women, Gender, and Culture 9 (1995): 25-44.

[1] Daniel Wickberg, “Heterosexual White Male: Recent Inversions in American Cultural History,” The Journal of American History vol. 92, no. 1 (June 2005): 136-157.

[2] Joseph M. Hawes and N. Ray Hiner, “Hidden in Plain View: The History of Children (and Childhood) in the Twenty-First Century,” The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth vol. 1, no. 1 (Win 2008): 47.

[3] Patrick J. Ryan, “Discursive Tensions on the Landscape of Modern Childhood,” Educare Ventenskapliga Skrifter vol. 2 (2011): 11-37.

[4] Daniel Wickberg, “Intellectual History vs. the Social History of Intellectuals,” Rethinking History vol. 5 no. 3 (2001): 383-395.

[5] Joseph F. Kett, Rites of Passage: adolescence in America, 1790-present (New York: Basic Books, 1977); Howard P. Chudacoff, How Old Are You?: age consciousness in American culture (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989).

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Opportunity: Editor of Children, Youth and Environments

The current editors are soliciting candidates for editor (or co-editors) of the journal Children, Youth and Environments. The new editor will assume the position of editor-designate in the summer of 2015 and during the transition will begin working with the current editors Willem van Vliet, Louise Chawla and Fahriye Sancar to become familiar with journal operations and procedures. The editor-designate will assume lead responsibility for the journal beginning in the Spring of 2016, commencing with Volume 26.

The position of editor/co-editor is a volunteer position, with journal funds available to pay for a Managing Editor, copy editor, and other technical assistance. Requirements for editor/co-editor include having a Ph.D. in a field related to children’s environments, some editing and publishing experience, and familiarity with the Children, Youth and Environments journal. Please, direct questions about this position to the journal’s lead editor, Dr. Willem van Vliet (phone 303-492-5015; email:
Continue reading “Opportunity: Editor of Children, Youth and Environments”

SHCY Outreach Grant: Child’s Play: Multi-Sensory Histories of Children and Childhood in Japan and Beyond

The SHCY is proud to be a co-sponsor of the interdisciplinary workshop CHILD’S PLAY: MULTI-SENSORY HISTORIES OF CHILDREN AND CHILDHOOD IN JAPAN AND BEYOND, to be held at the University of California, Santa Barbara, February 27-28, 2015. The workshop is partly funded by a SHCY Outreach Grant.
Workshop website:​

CHC Episode 5: Producing Self-Regulating Subjects

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Audio of Patrick Ryan’s Conversation with Gregory Bowden” open=”1″ style=”2″]
audio-file-16Patrick J. Ryan’s conversation with Gregory Bowden (.mp3)

[gn_spoiler title=”Conversation Transcript” open=”0″ style=”2″]
Transcript coming soon!

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to download a PDF of CHC Episode 5
The U.S. Department of Health – Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported in 2010 that boys (12%) were more than twice as likely as girls (5%) to have been diagnosed with ADHD; and kids living in households without a mother or a father (15%) were twice as likely to suffer from the disorder than those living with both parents (7.5%). The CDC‘s 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health reported very significant regional differences too. In the old American south ADHD was assigned to one child (4-17 years) in seven to ten, while from California to Texas it was used for perhaps one in fifteen or twenty children.

This is big business. During the 1990s sales of Ritalin increased more than 7 fold in the U.S., and more than 5 fold in Canada. By 2002 the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. posted a profit of 36 billion USD and held an average profitability margin of 18.5% of sales (the Fortune 500 average is 3.3%).1 According the CDC, by 2012 about 1 in 5 high-school-aged American boys had been diagnosed with ADHD, and among them about 2 out of 3 were prescribed medications such as Ritalin and Adderall. TheNew York Times reported that total annual sales of drugs to treat ADHD had more than doubled (from 4 to 9 billion USD) between 2007 to 2012.

How might we grasp the startling history of ADHD? What does it tell us about childhood?

Thomas Szasz (1920-2012) addressed the question in 2008 when he told the watchdog organization he helped found, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, that ADHD should no more be confused with a medical condition than “spring fever” should be confused with typhoid fever. Common phrases such as – “he has a chemical imbalance in the brain” – are part of an ideology that serves the interests of the psychiatric profession by extending the domain of the somatic into the social. In Szasz’s view, such falsehoods are general to psychiatric thought and the stakes could not be higher: “I have long maintained that the child psychiatrist is one of the most dangerous enemies not only of children, but of adults, of all of us who care to the most precious and most vulnerable things in life. And these things are children and liberty.”2

A mirror image of Szasz’s claims against psychiatry appears in the parent-centered magazine ADDitude. In “Silencing the Skeptics,” Debra Carpenter says the medical authorities are in consensus that ADHD is “real.” Repeatedly, ADDitude tells its readers not to blame themselves or others: “If your ADD son could exert the control necessary to conform, he would.” Free yourself from guilt by helping your child with brain training games and by optimizing the meds. Rather than Szasz’s picture of the isolated mother duped by the concealed interests of the psychiatric profession, the assumed reader of Additude is a competent agent, an active parent who attacks the disorder and all its possible outcomes. ADHD is not something one can outgrow and its boundaries spill into every part of ordinary life. It presents challenges in matters of money, career, and love. But there is hope. A drop-down menu provides a way to “join the community” with “ADDconnect.”

mother hugging daughter next to message "Don't Punish Me or My Child! ADHD symptoms are real, not the result of bad parenting."
A common theme found in the magazine “ADDitude.”

At least two positions are necessary conditions for the polar responses to ADHD. (1) Anti-psychiatry rejects the somantic basis of ADHD, while organizations like ADDitude support it. The debate requires a sharp distinction between ‘real’ phenomena and cultural constructions. Sometimes this is translated into the distinction between a material world external to the mind and a representational one that is produced by the mind. (2) Anti-psychiatry presents ADHD as a fraudulent diagnosis which robs children of childhood and all of us of meaningful freedom. Those who embrace the diagnosis see its treatment as necessary to allow people to master themselves, to establish the self-control necessary to live well at liberty. Both parties place childhood in a particularly important place within the development of competent agents.

I discussed these issues in a recent conversation with MacEwan University’s Gregory Bowden, who has published two excellent articles on ADHD in the past year.3 Bowden explained that similar diagnoses are nearly a half-century old, and that psychiatric attempts to categorize a lack of impulse control were present in the late-19th-century.4 The current debate often ignores this history, just as it assumes (incorrectly in Bowden’s view) that “real” science is apolitical and asocial. Bowden emphasized that the debate over ADHD has reinforced discursive practices that treat childhood as a site for intervention. He urges us to see the expansion pharmacological treatments for children on a continuum of disciplinary practices that include checklists, systems of reward-punishment, and other forms of behaviour modification.

Taking this perspective, Bowden see ADHD as project to “produce responsible subjects” through childhood. In his articles, he argued persuasively that the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder exists on the edge of a paradox. One is freed from ADHD by becoming bound to the terms of responsibility. Yet, the very idea of responsibility rests upon the assumption that conduct is determined by the will. What is a child diagnosed with ADHD, if not a person whose conduct is beyond the will? This does not mean that ADHD makes no sense (nor is it an attack upon disciplinary technologies more broadly). Instead, recognizing this tension might help us understand what the ADHD debate produces on the landscape of modern childhood.

1Susan McBride, “Pharmaceutical Industry Practices and the Medicalization of Childhood: Is Pathology for Sale?” Windsor Review of Legal & Social Issues no. 23 (2007): 55-83.

2 As quoted in the clip posted by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights ( Szasz’s reading of psychiatry was established in many publications over decades. See The Myth of Mental Illness: foundations of a theory of personal conduct (New York: Hoeber-Harper, 1961); Ideology and Insanity: essays on the psychiatric dehumanization of Man (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1970); The Therapeutic State: psychiatry in the mirror of current events (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1984).

3 Gregory Bowden, “Disorders of inattention and hyperactivity: The production of responsible subjects,” History of the Human Sciences vol. 27 (2014) 88–107; “The Merit of Sociological Accounts of Disorder: The Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder case,” Health vol. 18 (Jul 2014): 422-438.

4 Rick Mayes and Adam Rafalovich, “Suffer the restless children: The Evolution of ADHD and paediatric stimulate use, 1900-1980,” History of Psychiatry vol. 18, no. 4 (Dec 2007): 435-457.


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CFP: Girls’ Economies: Work & Play Cultures

Call for Papers: Girls’ Economies: Work & Play Cultures

Edited by Miriam Forman-Brunell and Diana Anselmo-Sequeira
Foreword by Dr. Eileen Boris

We know more about the history of grownups’ labor than we do about girls’ work, especially in informal domains. We know more about adult women workers than about girlhood employment and work-themed amusements. We know more about girls’ consumption practices than about their production patterns. We know more about childhood and play than we do about how play informs girls’ work skills, sensibilities, and identities as workers. We know more about businessmen and women than about moneymaking girls.

Girls’ Economies: Work & Play Cultures brings into sharp focus the significance of girls’ distinctive labor practices that often overlap with leisured endeavors. By crossing the boundaries between work and play, the margins between girlhood and female adolescence, and the demarcations among various economies, the original essays in this collection traverse the scholarly borders separating the history of labor, play, and business history, women’s history and the history of childhood and adolescence.

This anthology sets out to provide historical, international, and interdisciplinary perspectives on the socio-cultural and economic nature of work in girls’ lived realities and in representations. To that end, we seek previously unpublished essays that examine girls’ often invisible economies (e.g., informal, formal, domestic, household, underground (black economy), plantation, sexual, and sharing economies, etc.) by investigating the distinctive nature of girls’ work patterns that often complicate the lines between manual, domestic, unremunerated play practices, and monetary rewards (e.g., handicrafts; household toys); manifest unique “work cultures” (e.g., DIY participatory cultures) and; employ specific forms of labor, such as the “emotional labor” of Girl Scouts and the “reproductive labor” of girls’ household chores that help to sustain households and enables other family members to engage in paid, productive labor.
Continue reading “CFP: Girls’ Economies: Work & Play Cultures”

CHC Episode 4: Developmental Thinking

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Audio of Patrick Ryan’s Conversation with André Turmel” open=”1″ style=”2″]
audio-file-16Part 1 of Patrick Ryan’s Conversation with André Turmel (.mp3)
Part 2 of Patrick Ryan’s Conversation with André Turmel (.mp3)


[gn_spoiler title=”Conversation Transcript” open=”0″ style=”2″]
Transcript coming soon!

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to download a PDF of CHC Episode 4
This episode of CHC offers an extended two-part conversation with André Turmel, professor emeritus at Laval University in Quebec City and author of the 2008 book A Historical Sociology of Childhood.

Turmel begins by summarizing how he came to the historical sociology of childhood. He gained his commitment to history while studying at the University of Provence Aix Marseille I, where Annalistes historians such as Georges Duby and Paul Veyne were linked to the sociologists who trained him. He saw childhood has an area that needed sociological attention, noting that for most of the twentieth-century sociologists focused upon the family, leaving childhood to the psychologists. Citing the examples of Talcot Parsons and Pierre Bourdieu, Turmel claims that until quite recently, leading sociologists have uncritically imported developmental psychology into sociological theory.

In response, Turmel developed an historical sociology of childhood by drawing upon some of the ideas of Bruno Latour, and building on the insights of the physician and historical philosopher Georges Canguilhem’s post-WWII work on the normal and the pathological.

His research utilizes precise analytic concepts, but these are fashioned through detailed archival efforts. Most of our conversation focused upon Turmel’s key concepts for investigating modern childhood: “graphic visualization,” “the normal child,” and “developmental thinking as a cognitive form.”

Select Works by André Turmel:

A Historical Sociology of Childhood. Developmental Thinking, Categorization and Graphic Visualization (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

“Das normale Kind: Zwischen Kategorisierung, Statistik und Entwicklung,” in Ganz normale Kinder: Heterogenität und Standardisierung kindlicher Entwicklung edited by Helga Helle and Anja Tervooren (Juventa, 2008): 17-40.

“La catégorie d’orphelin en milieu institutionnel. Quelques paramètres pour la région de Québec (1850-1950),” in Québec-Wallonie. Dynamiques des espaces et expériences francophones edited by Brigitte Caulier and Luc Courtois (Laval University Press, 2006): 113-134.

“De la fatalité de penser la maturation au terme de développement. Esquisse d’une alternative,” in Questions pour une sociologie de l’enfance edited by Régine Sirota (University of Rennes Press, 2006): 63-73.

“Towards a Historical Sociology of Developmental Thinking: the Case of Generation,” Paedagogica Historica vol. 40, issue 4 (August 2004): 419-433

“Historiography of Children in Canada,” in Histories of Canadian Children and Youth edited by Nancy Janovicek and Joy Parr (Oxford University Press, 2003): 10-18.

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CHC Episode 3: Ireland: Reading Childhood Comparatively

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Audio of Patrick Ryan’s Conversation with Mary Hatfield” open=”1″ style=”2″]

audio-file-16Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Mary Hatfield (.mp3)

[gn_spoiler title=”Conversation Transcript” open=”0″ style=”2″]
Transcript coming soon!

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to download a PDF of CHC Episode 3
With the Irish Research Council and St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, the Society for the History of Children and Youth provided support for a conference on the history of childhood in Ireland in June, 2014. The conference drew over fifty papers covering an impressive diversity of issues, and offered four thought-provoking plenary lectures. Listen above to a conversation about it and the development of the field of childhood history in Ireland with one of the organizers, Mary Hatfield – Ph.D. Candidate at Trinity College, Dublin.

Organizers of "Twenty Years A-Growing" from left to right: Sarah-Anne Buckley, Mary Hatfield, Marnie Hay, Riona Nic Congail, and Gaye Ashford (another member - Jutta Kruse - not shown).
Organizers of “Twenty Years A-Growing” from left to right: Sarah-Anne Buckley, Mary Hatfield, Marnie Hay, Riona Nic Congail, and Gaye Ashford (another member – Jutta Kruse – not shown).
To prepare for the conference, I surveyed 40 peer-reviewed articles and chapters on Irish childhood history published over the previous decade and delivered a review of the literature. This reading and the conference experience left me with a few comparative observations. It also affirmed for me the value of reading childhood history comparatively across national boundaries.

About ten years ago there was a sustained increase in publications on Irish childhood history. The trend seems to be increasing every year. These efforts are interdisciplinary and predominantly focused on modern Ireland – that is familiar in other national contexts. Two narratives organize current Irish literature: (1) studies that tell a story of structural and institutional deprivation and mistreatment of Irish children since the mid-19th-century; (2) studies that explore the relationships between childhood, youth, and the politics of nationalism in late-19th- and 20th-century Ireland.1 I suspect continuing efforts will extend beyond these dominant concerns with deprivation and nationalism, yet (given my limited examination) there is room for more work on youth consumer culture & sports, educational institutions (outside of residential schools), the history of scientific ideas about childhood (outside of paediatrics).

This said, the current emphases in Irish historiography prepare fertile ground for considering important comparative issues. My attention was drawn to a familiar tension between modern ideals of childhood and the existence of workhouses (or poorhouses) in the mid/late 19th-century. Influenced by ideas about childhood conditioning and innocence, like other elites, many Irish leaders feared workhouses would “pauperize” children through association with the worst kind of adults. At the same time, Irish authorities held the prejudice that ordinary Irish homes were unfit to raise children by middle-class standards. Neither the family as it was, nor institutions as they had been previously built, were adequate. This dilemma (common in other nations) created the framework for a vast overhaul of childhood policy in the late-19th- and 20th-century.2

While the Irish shared key elements of a larger childhood-saving concern, their discourse developed unique features. There was a much stronger fear that practices such as foster care or “friendly visiting” (later professional casework) would be used to proselytize across confessional boundaries. Since, the Church exercised more influence over governmental policy and held a unique position within identity politics, the balance tipped decidedly toward building large Church-run institutions for children.3 As it is still said in Ireland, the poor or troublesome child was “sent to the laundries” – residential schools typically run by nuns. The rise of juvenile courts, legal adoption, foster care, the rationalization of “outdoor” relief, the professionalization of social work, and a multitude of structures that advanced middle-class childhood discourse over the past 150 years in North America and Great Britain did not have the same presence or timing in Irish childhood history.

You might say that the relationship between the child and the modern state captured by the Anglo-American doctrine of “the best interests of the child,” has been particularly contentious, and perhaps incongruous with primary features of Irish culture.4 This seems consistent with Caroline Skehill’s 2004 historical study of social work in Ireland, but the sources and consequences of this divergence are not obvious to me.5 If Ireland was different, was it due to an ability to maintain elements of master-servant childhood? What is the Pauline exhortation? Husband-wife, parent-child, master-servant are “one-flesh.”6 It is more than tantalizing to contrast this ancient doctrine with Ellen Key’s 1909 claim that “the century of the child” could only begin when humanity “abandoned the Christian point of view” and embraced the “holiness of generation.”7

Before going too far down this road, we might recall one of Ian Miller’s excellent points in his 2013 study of 19th-century Irish industrial schools and reformatories. Miller urged us to resist condemnation of the past or the propensity to see Irish childhood history only for what it lacked.8 If the Irish industrial schools and reformatories (founded upon confessional division and a jaundice view of family life) inflicted harm, it would not follow that other national histories offer rational policy alternatives, harmless “best-practices.” Taking this a step further, one might reconsider the narrative of trauma and survival fashioned to such popularity by the hyperbolic Frank McCourt. If taken as an axiom, the idea that nothing is so miserably heroic as Irish Catholic childhood forecloses other ways of reading the history of Irish childhood.9

When considering the lessons of childhood practices in Ireland, historians would do well to reflect on the prefiguring potential of the narrative of childhood trauma and survival. It has certainly framed the histories of childhood policy in other, purportedly more “modernized,” countries: Bernardo’s global farming out of “Home Children” from England to Australia and Canada; Charles Loring Brace’s orphan trains from U.S. eastern cities to the western states.10 Canada constructed a large residential school project to assimilate First Nation children in institutions run by the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, paid for by the Federal Government. The Canadian assault upon indigenous culture, its humiliation and violence has been called “cultural genocide” recently. These projects, apologized for today, were once proudly advanced as means to human progress.11

A comparative perspective might call into question the idea that if only Irish childhood practices had caught-up sooner, all would have been better (or at least less miserable). So many practices advanced earlier and more thoroughly outside of Ireland have come under critical review and debate. These include the professional investigation of the poor, compulsory standardized education, the removal of children and youth from paid work, not to mention the massive pharmacological network framing the treatment of North American children and youth today.12

It seems to me that the medicalization of childhood policy, what André Turmel called “developmental thinking as a cognitive form,” was later and less comprehensively instituted in Ireland.13 Taking a comparative view, it is difficult to read this as simply a blessing or a curse, but it is clearly a significant point for analysis. The difference might have been related to what Robbie Gilligan reasonably names Ireland’s history as a “reluctant state.”14 Yet – here again – a comparative view complicates the matter. If we call Ireland a “reluctant state” (defining it by what it lacked), are we saying that modern childhood policy gains its unifying features by the triumph of a medical model? Do modern child-state relations have this sort of global essence? Or, might there be multiple reluctances among us? Might it be that states are apt to do many different things? If they have purposes at all, might these be temporary, contingent, protean, and divergent?

These questions are asked without denying that historians possess reasonably compelling ways to position the child-state relationship in particular places and times. It compresses too much, but we might say that in America, a reluctant state developed from late-18th-century Republican motherhood and the idea that insecurity and competition are necessary for developing manhood. These threads became aligned against church-state monopolies, but in the 20th-century they formed around certain bio-political techniques.15 The “reluctant” state in Ireland seems to have emerged from the growing monopoly of Church institutions in the 19th-century with a complex connection with Irish nationalist identity and developed different (perhaps less subtle and less effective) disciplinary regimes. Juxtaposing two quite divergent “reluctant” states should disrupt the notion that the child-state relation moves toward the realization of an essential form; the idea of progress (or decline) may serve reformers better than historians.

Taken to its logical conclusion, this genealogical reading of the past may move categories, cast doubts upon assumptions, and put us in a position of perpetual critique.16 Maybe it leaves us with nothing better than history and comparison, and calls us to read about childhood outside of our most familiar frameworks of time and place. To do so remains a laborious and risky thing. We are usually historians of a time, a place, a culture, before we are historians of childhood. Boundaries are not easily discarded, even if we sense that childhood is a discourse passing and shifting between eras – traversing state structures, and that it might be illuminated best upon a wide historical landscape.


1 This essay will focus on the first of these two lines of inquiry. In the literature on nationalism and identity, many articles documented the institutional histories of youth voluntary associations. A fine example is Marnie Hay, “The Foundation and Development of Na Fianna Éireann, 1909-16,” Irish Historical Studies v. 36, n. 141 (May 2008): 53-71. Others take a cultural studies approach, such as Ríona Nic Congáil, “Young Ireland and The Nation: Nationalist Children’s Culture in the Late Nineteenth Century,” ÉireIreland v. 46 (Fall/Winter 2011): 37-62.

2 For a concise overview of part of this period with a useful bibliography see, Lindsey Earner-Byrne, “Reinforcing the family: The role of gender, morality and sexuality in Irish welfare policy, 1922-1944,” The History of the Family v. 13 (2008): 360-369.

3 Virginia Crossman, “Cribbed, Contained, and Confined?: The Care of Children under the Irish Poor Law, 1850-1920,” ÉireIreland v. 44 (Spring/Summer 2009): 37-61.

4 This is a complex issue. See Moira J. Maguire and Séamas Ó Cinnéide, “‘A Good Beating Never Hurt Anyone’: The Punishment and Abuse of Children in Twentieth Century Ireland,” Journal of Social History v. 38, no. 3 (2005): 335-352; Sarah-Anne Buckley, “Child neglect, poverty and class: the NSPCC in Ireland, 1889-1939 – a case study,” Saothar: Journal of the Irish Labour History Society (2008): 57-69; Maria Luddy, “The early years of the NSPCC in Ireland,” Eire-Ireland v. 44 (Spring/Summer 2009): 62-90; Mary E. Daly, “The primary and natural educator? The role of parents in the education of their children in independent Ireland,” ÉireIreland v. 44 (Spring/Summer 2009): 194-217.

5 Caroline Skehill, History of the Present Child Protection and Welfare Social Work in Ireland (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 2004).

6 See Patrick Joseph Ryan, Master-Servant Childhood: a history of the idea of childhood in medieval English culture (New York: Palgrave, 2013).

7 Ellen Key, The Century of the Child (New York: Putnam, 1909): 3.

8 Ian Miller, “Constructing Moral Hospitals: Childhood Health in Irish Reformatories and Industrial Schools, c. 1851-1890,” in Growing Pains: Childhood Illness in Irish History, 1750-1950 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2013): 108.

9 The narrative of trauma and survival is highlighted on the first page and the jacket cover of Angela’s Ashes. Given in the authorial voice of the adult just prior to taking the child’s point of view, McCourt tells us that when he looks back on his “…childhood I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes: a memoir (New York: Scribner, 1996).

10 Roy A. Parker, Uprooted: the shipment of poor children to Canada, 1867-1917 (Bristol: Policy Press, 2008); Alan Gill, Orphans of the Empire: the shocking story of child migration to Australia (Alexandra: Vintage Australia, 1997); Philip Bean and Joy Melville, Lost Children of the Empire: the untold story of Britain’s child migrants (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989).

11 On the Canadian aboriginal residential schools see Celia Haig-Brown, Resistance and Renewal: surviving the Indian residential school (Vancouver: Tillacum, 1988). See also this 1955 CBC news release.

12 Ansgar Allen, Benign Violence: Education in and beyond the Age of Reason (Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); Michael Bourdillon et al eds., The Rights and Wrongs of Children’s Work (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010); Louise Armstrong, And They Call It Help: the Psychiatric Policing of America’s Children (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1993).

13 This is a general observation of my own, rather than a point of a particular study. The “medicalization of childhood” refers to an approach toward the lives of young people including policies, diagnostic tools and language, treatments systems, and more. For example, see Tom Feeney, “Church, State and Family: The Advent of Child Guidance in Independent Ireland,” Social History of Medicine v. 25, no. 4 (2012): 848-863.

14 Robbie Gilligan, “The ‘Public Child’ and the Reluctant State?” Eire-Ireland v. 44 (Spring/Summer 2009): 265-290.

15 The classic treatment of the establishment of bio-political techniques in the British and American situation is found in Nikolas Rose, Governing the Soul: the shaping of the private self (London: Routledge, 1989).

16 See Michel Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews edited by D.F. Bouchard (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977): 139-164; and Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?” in The Foucault Reader edited by Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon, 1984): 32-50.


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Call for Nominations: Fass-Sandin Prize for Best Article

The Society for the History of Children and Youth (SHCY) is pleased to call for nominations for the best article in Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish on the history of children, childhood, or youth (broadly construed) published in 2012, 2013, and 2014 in a print or online journal. The SHCY will grant two awards. The prizes consists of a plaque and a check for $250. The winners will be announced at the SHCY conference in Vancouver 2015. Authors will be informed of the award prior to the conference, and it will be announced on the website. Nominations are invited from publishers, editors, scholars, and authors. Eligibility for the awards is based solely on the language in which the article is published, not on the residence or nationality of the author. Current members of the SHCY award committee, the executive committee, and officers of the society are ineligible.

Send a PDF or photocopy of the article to the chair of the prize committee, Bengt Sandin at The deadline for nominations is March 1st, 2015. The other members of the committee are Ning de Conink Smith, and Ellen Schrumpf.

Nominations for Fass-Sandin Prize for the best articles in French and German will be announced in 2016 and in Italian and Spanish in 2017; each award will cover the three previous years.​

Journal of Popular Music Studies Special Issue on Girls and Popular Music

Guest editors: Sarah Dougher and Diane Pecknold
7,000-word articles due September 1, 2015

The Journal of Popular Music Studies invites submissions for a special issue on Girls and Popular Music. Beginning with the publication of Angela McRobbie’s work on the bedroom music culture of British girls, popular music has been a core aspect of the emergent field of girls’ studies. Conversely, attention to the musical practices of girls and to constructions of girlhood and female youth have revised our understandings of the ways popular music as a whole is produced and consumed. Kyra Gaunt’s discussion of the ways girls’ rhyming and chanting games reflect and reshape the same principles of black music-making as commercial hip-hop; Norma Coates’s suggestion that teenyboppers and groupies provided the foundational low Others against which rock culture secured its own credibility; and Gayle Wald’s interrogation of girlishness as a performative resource through which adult women’s position in popular music is established are only a few examples of critical role real and figurative girls play in shaping popular music and scholarly approaches to it.

In recent years, however, the relationship between girlhood and popular music has undergone significant shifts. The rapidly changing sphere of media and media access is often characterized as a threat to girls, both in terms of morality and productivity, but at the same time it offers them newly visible roles in the music economy as child stars, amateur musicians, and YouTube personalities. New technologies such as mobile recording, social media, YouTube, and blogging as well as new institutional structures, such as digital music distribution, the formalized tween music industry, and the rise of girl-serving organizations based on musicking call for a re-examination of the ways girlhood and female youth are constructed and experienced through popular music.
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CHC Episode 2: Teaching Childhood as Discourse for Professionals

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Audio of Patrick Ryan’s Conversation with Jonas Qvarsebo and Johan Dahlbeck” open=”1″ style=”2″]

audio-file-16Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Jonas Qvarsebo and Johan Dahlbeck (.mp3)

[gn_spoiler title=”Conversation Transcript” open=”0″ style=”2″]
Transcript coming soon!

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to download a PDF of CHC Episode 2
Since 2011, each May sixteen students from Kings University College – Canada and Malmö University – Sweden have joined an international exchange seminar in the study of childhood.   Students travel to each other’s countries attend lectures on the history of social institutions and critical thought; we discuss a common set of readings.

Students and Faculty of the Kings-Malmo International Comparative Seminar in Childhood Study.  May, 2013 - London, Ontario.
Students and Faculty of the Kings-Malmo International Comparative Seminar in Childhood Study. May, 2013 – London, Ontario.

Admission to the program is competitive and drawn from the undergraduate programs in Childhood and Social Institutions at Kings, and within the Faculty of Education and Society at Malmö. The students’ professional paths lean toward the field of education – complimented by their interests in social work, law, and health care. The course provides an avenue for those headed into the helping professions to read and think about childhood more critically. For many of them, it provides their first opportunity to travel across the Atlantic. Much of the learning happens through the relationships between students. A number have made second-trips to Canada or Sweden building upon the friendships initiated by the seminar.

The seminar’s comparative readings, discussions, and lectures prompt students to reconsider their categories. Typically, English Canadians are at pains to distinguish themselves from Americans, but maintaining this winkle of identity in a situation where the Scandinavian-North American comparison is paramount becomes precarious to say the least. Even a brief introduction into Swedish social policy or educational practices makes the comparative weakness of social democracy in Canada obvious.
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CHC Episode 1: What to Make of Child-Saving Discourse?

CHILDHOOD: History and Critique (CHC) is a series of interviews, commentary, and happenings in historical studies of childhood presented by Dr. Patrick J. Ryan, Kings University College at Western University, Canada.

[gn_spoiler title=”Audio of Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Shurlee Swain” open=”1″ style=”2″]
audio-file-16Patrick J. Ryan’s Conversation with Shurlee Swain (.mp3)

[gn_spoiler title=”Conversation Transcript” open=”0″ style=”2″]
Download: Full Transcript of Patrick Ryan’s Conversation with Shurlee Swain (PDF)

[gn_spoiler title=”Commentary by Patrick J. Ryan” open=”1″ style=”2″]
Click to Download a PDF of CHC Episode 1
This summer British Airways interrupted my in-flight movie to ask for a charitable donation.  There we were, jet-setting at six kilometres above the earth, as a promotional video showed silken flight attendants and pilots walking a dusty road hand-in-hand with barefooted African children.  Seeing passengers fold-up their “High Life” magazines to toss a few dollars into a hat, while these images were projected upon rows of individualized screens, struck me as one of the world’s particularly absurd moments.

Several weeks later, I searched in vain for this video.  It may have vanished from cyber-space after a pilot took his own life amid allegations that he had molested children while participating in the Airline’s program; law suits have followed.  British Airways’ programs are hardly alone in providing a venue for the exploitation of children, anymore than child-rescue or child-saving discourse is incidental to larger structures of class, race, and globalization.[1]

The most troubling stories are simultaneously familiar and disorienting.  What to think?

Should we read ever popular child-saving campaigns for ideological concealment – as if they were like the happiness blankets offered in-flight to facilitate “deep, undisturbed sleep”?  This is part of the story. Companies hope to associate themselves and what they sell with progress and human well-being. Canada’s Free the Children calls their corporate sponsors “change makers,” “visionaries,” “champions,” “ambassadors,” and “friends” – valuable tributes for Allstate, Cineplex, Ford (and others) in a media saturated world.  But, there is more to it.  If We Day (proclaimed as a “rock concerts for social change”) feels like a “pep-rally”, it also features everything from the Dalai Lama to Justin Bieber. There must be more than one line of thought at work.
Consider Barnardos history of manipulation of childhood images. The photograph above created controversy in late 1999 by showing an infant injecting himself with heroine. The caption read, “Battered as a child, it was always possible that John would turn to drugs.  With Barnardo’s help, child abuse need not lead to an empty future.” The image was purportedly designed to raise consciousness and money for preventative programs for ‘at-risk’ youth.  Some publications refused to run it – arguing it was obscene. It doesn’t offend me, but it also does more than its producers say they intended. The image hails forth the possibility that a young adult addict remains in essence a person worthy of forgiveness and care – like a child. Though more caustic, its affect is similar to the substitutions used in Goebel Reeves‘ “Hobo’s Lullaby,” performed by both Woody and Arlo Guthrie. In these texts, the juxtaposition of image or melody and word begins to erase a distinction that child-saving discourse itself relies upon: the polarity between innocence and guilt, between purity and profanity. As they destabilize the line separating the saved from the damned, they propagate an unsettling feature of modern discourses of personal transformation – something akin to what Stanley Fish called “self-consuming artifacts.”[2]

If nothing else, the complexity of these texts foster thoughts and feelings that might move readers in opposing directions.  They produce conflict at least as much as they conceal it.  This is another reason to be careful with the concept of ideology.  As Mitchell Dean explains, the “objective of ideology critique is to unmask the ideological content of language to reveal real relations of subordination.”[3]  Ideology critique handles the power-knowledge relation by discounting not only multiplicity, but the possibility that culture produces who we ‘really’ are and how we “actually” relate.  If language is not a mask, but is the way we produce ourselves and our relations, then there is no pre-discursive “real” or “root” or “base” to be revealed.  Analysis should ask what texts do, not what they hide or uncover.

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Guest Post: Sharon Wall on Space, the Maternity Home and Other Roads Taken

Sharon Wall is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Winnipeg. Her areas of study include: Canadian social and cultural history, childhood and youth, gender and sexuality, education, urban history

I find myself drawn to research where I can explore some aspect of the history of space. In museums I’ve always been drawn to those tiny scale models of buildings, towns, cityscapes and so on that give one that omniscient, Friendly Giant kind of feeling of surveying the world from a superior vantage point. The bird’s-eye-view perspective is always so compelling. Isn’t it ultimately what we want from social history, to rise above our limited individual points of reference to see “the bigger picture,” to give meaning to the chaos of experience? Personally, I also feel closer to the past (to that “foreign country”) when I think through its physical aspects, one reason I find the literature on the history of architecture, the body, and more recently, the senses so inspiring.

My article in this volume, “Making Room(s) for Teenagers: Space and Place at Early Postwar Maternity Homes in Ontario and B.C.,” was one way to explore my interest in the expressions and meanings of space in the context of unmarried pregnancy in post-WWII Canada.

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Guest Post: Rachel Elder on Detroit’s School for Epileptic Children

Rachel Elder is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

In the spring of 1946, the nation’s first and only public school for children with epilepsy dismantled all of its rubber fixtures. During that first spring-cleaning following World War Two, several hundred yards of protective coating, once relied upon to blanket the hard corners and surfaces of so many radiators and stairwells, came instead to line the inside of some Detroit dumpsters.

In my forthcoming article, “Safe Seizures, Schoolyard Stoics, and the Making of Safe Citizens at Detroit’s School for Epileptic Children, 1935-1956,” I investigate this and other seemingly modest revisions in school policy at Kathleen B. White Special School immediately following the Second World War. Disposing of these safety technologies, I argue, was no small matter; rather, it was at the forefront of a changing way in which epilepsy, and more specifically, the public image of the “epileptic,” was reconfigured after the war. The removal of rubber coating and other changes at this single elementary school represented a new way of imagining and promoting the seizure prone body – as resilient, self-contained, and impervious to injury – qualities I suggest were vital to citizenship in the postwar era, and written most explicitly upon the bodies of these school-aged children.

(Life Magazine, June 3, 1946, p. 134)
(Life Magazine, June 3, 1946, p. 134)

I first learned of the White Special School by way of photograph in a feature article on epilepsy in a 1946 edition of Life Magazine. Toward the end of the article, headed with the caption “Detroit has School for Epileptics,” were three black and white images of the unnamed school: one of an attendant monitoring children in the yard, another of students queuing for the relatively new anticonvulsant drug, Dilantin, and a final one in which two girls, arms enclosed around each others’ waists, ascended an interior staircase.

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CFP: Children’s Rights and Children’s Literature

Special Issue of The Lion and the Unicorn

Guest Editors:
Lara Saguisag, College of Staten Island-City University of New York and Matthew B. Prickett, Rutgers University-Camden

We are seeking papers that investigate the intersections between the histories, theories, and practices of children’s rights and children’s literature. In response to the ratification of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC) in 1989, advocates and scholars have debated the necessity and revealed the complexity of defining and implementing children’s rights across the globe. Critical discourse on children’s rights, however, has not yet fully examined the role that children’s literature plays in shaping, promoting, implementing and interrogating children’s rights. This special issue invites scholars to explore the connections between the institutions of children’s rights and children’s literature.

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Guest Post: Sarah Emily Duff on Dangerous Girls

Sarah Emily Duff is a Researcher at WiSER, and holds a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London. Her research is on histories of childhood, sexuality, and medicine in nineteenth- and twentieth-century South Africa. Funded by a prestigious, five-year Research Career Advancement Fellowship from the National Research Foundation (NRF), her current project investigates histories of sex education in twentieth-century South Africa. Before joining WiSER, Sarah held an NRF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Stellenbosch University, and lectured at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has published in the Journal of Southern African Studies, the South African Historical Journal, and the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, as well as in several edited collections. She has articles forthcoming in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and Kronos. Her monograph, Changing Childhoods in the Cape Colony: Dutch Reformed Church Evangelicalism and Colonial Childhood, 1860-1895, will be published in 2014 by Palgrave Macmillan, in a new series on global histories of childhood.

In September 1901, a little more than six months before the conclusion of the South African War (1899-1902), John Fourie, a resident of Aberdeen in the rural eastern districts of the Cape Colony, noted in his diary:

Mrs. Niel P. Fouche and family (women and children only) had to appear before the Commandant this morning, because they did not open the door on Saturday night, when the Tommies were hammering at it. When Mrs F. asked who it was, they would not answer, and when they broke the door a little daughter of Mrs F. about 12 years of age through [sic] at them with an axe.

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2014 Outreach Grant Report: Legal History Consortium

On June 1-2, 2014 an SHCY Outreach Grant helped the Legal History Consortium hold a conference on conference “The Law and the Child in Historical Perspective” in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota Law School. The conference was the fourth sponsored by the Consortium, which includes: the University of Minnesota Law School and History Department, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, University of Michigan Law School, University of Chicago Law School, University of Pennsylvania Law School and History Department, and University of Illinois Law School. It was established to nurture the work of beginning and early career (advanced graduate students and pre-tenure) scholars in the field of legal history, focusing each conference on a topic of special significance in the field of legal history.

This year’s conference focused on the legal history of children and youth. It attracted emerging scholars working in a broad range of fields geographically, chronologically, and topically. We could accept only 15 of the 57 submissions for the day and half conference. They were divided into five panels with three papers each. All participants read the papers and participated in the discussions; Consortium members served as commentators and discussion leaders. The results were terrific.

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Deadline Extended for SHCY2015 Proposals!

2015 Conference: CFP Society for the History of Children and Youth Eighth Biennial Conference

Date: June 24-26th, 2015
Location: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Proposal Submission Deadline: OCTOBER 15, 2014 (FINAL)

Description: “In Relation: Children, Youth, and Belonging”

The Program Committee invites proposals for panels, papers, roundtables or workshops that explore histories of children and youth from any place and in any era. We will, however, give particular attention to proposals with a strong historical emphasis and that bear on the theme of this year’s conference. Relationships are foundational to human lives and to children’s experience of the world. They might involve coercion and suffering, or agency and liberation. Domestic relationships with parents, caregivers, siblings, relatives, and pets shape young people’s sense of self, their experiences and their place in the world. Wider relationship circles, including those with peers and adult professionals such as teachers, doctors, police, and social workers, likewise affect young people’s position in the world in diverse ways. The complex effects of large-scale events and phenomena including colonization, imperialism, war, industrialization, urbanization, and disease epidemics, among others, have both direct and indirect effects on young peoples’ relationships that vary across time and cultural context. Virtual relationships facilitated by letter writing and, more recently, digital technology, provide young people with a distinctive window onto international connections and cross-cultural influences. Relations of power, often uneven and always nuanced by gender, race, class, sexuality, and (dis)ability, flow through all relationships that young people forge and encounter. Historical research that explores the varied meanings attached to the range of relationships young people experience usefully expands our understanding of both the past and present.

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Guest Post: Mark E. Lincicome on Conversations with Nakano Akira

Mark E. Lincicome is an Associate Professor of history at College of the Holy Cross. He specializes in early modern and modern Japanese history and culture, Japanese intellectual history, educational reform movements and the politics of education in modern Japan, and globalization in Asia.

My personal relationship with Nakano Akira, who is the subject of my essay, “In the Shadow of the Asia-Pacific War,” dates back some two decades. I first contacted him in the early 1990s seeking his advice and assistance as an expert on the so-called “Taisho liberal education” movement, which coincided with other “progressive” social and political movements in Japan between the two world wars. We soon became friends: my family and I hosted Professor Nakano and his wife at our house in Massachusetts for a week back in 1996, while I have visited their comfortable home in suburban Tokyo at least a half-dozen times since then, where I am always treated to a sumptuous sushi lunch after first sipping tea and talking with Professor Nakano about our respective research projects in their sitting room.
Photo 1
It is in the sitting room, on the top shelf of a bookcase in the corner (see photo #1, taken in October 2013), where Nakano displays a small, white plaster relief of famed Swiss educator Johann Pestalozzi (see photo #2). As I explain in my essay, this piece, which Nakano’s father cast during the early years of the Taisho liberal education movement, is steeped in symbolism. For Nakano it serves, among other things, as a poignant reminder of a life-changing conversation he had with his father during his youth, as he despaired over the meaning of Japan’s recent defeat in the Asia-Pacific War.
Photo 2
From my vantage point, this plaster relief also symbolizes the subjectivity that casts its own indelible mark on the work of every historian, whether he or she acknowledges it—as Nakano does—or not. Nakano’s candid expressions of admiration for the progressive ideals espoused by Taisho-era educational reformers like his father, on one hand, and his frustration over their inconsistent defense of those ideals in the face of political and bureaucratic opposition, on the other, stem from the doubts and despair he experienced as a patriotic “military youth” who proudly entered the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy (see photo #3) in the spring of 1945, only to witness his country’s long “holy war” and its promise of “certain victory” conclude with “unconditional surrender” and foreign occupation six months later.
For reasons that I explain in the introduction, Part Two of my article features my translation of an essay that Nakano wrote and published in Japanese in 2000. I wish to thank James Marten and the editorial board of the Journal of History of Childhood and Youth for allowing me to include it. I hope that their decision will encourage other journals in related fields to follow suit.

2014 Grace Abbott Prize Winner Announced!

The committee charged with selecting the 2014 Grace Abbott Prize for Best Book published in 2013—E. Wayne Carp (chair), Steve Mintz, and Ishita Pande—have selected the following book:

Daniel Rivers, Radical Relations: Lesbian Mothers, Gay Fathers, and Their Children in the United States since World War II.

The committee says this about the book: Daniel Winunwe Rivers’s Radical Relations demonstrates that scholarly rigor, an exhaustive research agenda, and deep historiographical engagement can be transformed into a powerful social history compelling for broad audiences. Rivers masterfully reveals the historical context for the current spotlight on the modern struggle for family and domestic rights by GLBT people. Moreover, by putting the parent-child relationship at the center of this book, Rivers tells a history, both disturbing and hopeful, that successfully challenges a long-standing assumption that same-sex orientation excludes an investment in parenting. Living under the constant threat of losing custody of their children if their own true sexuality was discovered, GLBT parents fought for parental rights through the legal system, the creation in the 1970s of a nationwide grassroots network of lesbian mothers, and the subsequent national organizations of gay fathers. In the end, Radical Relations is a model for a growing dialogue between the history of childhood, family history, the history of gender and sexuality, and GLBT history.

Rivers is an assistant professor of history at The Ohio State University. He will receive a plaque and $500.​

Guest Post: Scott Johnston on Archival Research and the Boy Scouts

Scott Johnston is a PhD student at McMaster University. My research explores The transatlantic relationship between Canada and the United Kingdom in the 19th and 20th centuries. I am beginning a project which examines notions of time and the ordering of time across the Atlantic world and the British empire. He is also interested in public memory and commemoration. My previous projects have focused on the role of youth movements such as the Boy Scout and Girl Guide movements in imperial and international relations.

In the early spring of 2012, I, a graduate student in history from Canada, found myself huddled up in a cold, damp, little tent, pitched on the far side of the Atlantic, listening to campfire singsong while reading copies of century old letters, meeting minutes, and other miscellaneous ephemera with a flashlight. I was at Gilwell Park in Great Britain, the headquarters of the Scout Association, doing research on an imperial migration program which the Boy Scouts had organized in the 1920s and 1930s for my upcoming article in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. It was a slightly surreal experience, combining the dirt and wet of outdoor camp life with the usually pristine, climate controlled, bare world of archival research. But Gilwell Park, uniquely, is both an active, busy campsite for the organization’s youth of today, while also being the location of the Scout Association’s archives. I daily jumped between the two worlds, sleeping in my tiny tent at night, and walking across the property to the well maintained archives by day.

Such a contrast profoundly emphasizes how distant academic life can sometimes be from the real, lived lives of the object of study. The past is found by historians in scraps of dry paper, locked away in sterile, colourless rooms. But there are bridges across the gap. Sometimes the sources that truly bring the past to life are those that never see the light of day in published print. These little archival gems can bring out lively personalities. Take, for example, the letter that Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, wrote to his house guest, asking if he had seen his brother’s missing evening shoes.[1] Such humdrum novelties make the figures of the past become real.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Scott Johnston on Archival Research and the Boy Scouts”

CFP: Playthings in Early Modernity

Contributions are sought for an interdisciplinary collection of essays to be edited by Allison Levy and published by Ashgate Publishing Co. in the new book series, Cultures of Play, 1300-1700 (see; series editor Bret Rothstein). Dedicated to early modern playfulness, this series serves two purposes. First, it recounts the history of wit, humor, and games, from jokes and sermons, for instance, to backgammon and blind man’s buff. Second, in addressing its topic – ludic culture – broadly, Cultures of Play also provides a forum for reconceptualizing the play elements of early modern economic, political, religious, and social life.

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Guest Post: Michelle Ann Abate on Children’s Sexuality

Michelle Ann Abate is Associate Professor of Literature for Children and Young Adults at The Ohio State University. She is the author of three books of literary criticism: Bloody Murder: The Homicide Tradition in Children’s Literature (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), Raising Your Kids Right: Children’s Literature and American Political Conservatism (Rutgers University Press, 2010), and Tomboys: A Literary and Cultural History (Temple University Press, 2008). Michelle is also the co-editor of three books of critical essays: C. S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia Casebook, with Lance Weldy (Palgrave, 2012); Global Perspectives on Tarzan: From King of the Jungle to International Icon, with Annette Wannamaker (Routledge, 2011), Over the Rainbow: Queer Children’s and Young Adult Literature, with Kenneth B. Kidd (University of Michigan Press, 2010).

The question of children’s sexuality has long been a controversial one. Elementary-aged young people are commonly seen a being asexual or, perhaps more accurately, pre-sexual. If boys and girls are seen as possessing any erotic inclination at all, it is commonly presumed to be heterosexual. The cultural prevalence and societal power of this belief is evidenced in examples ranging from the sale of onesies for newborn boys with phrases like “Chick Magnet” on them to the abundance of decorative photographs featuring Kindergarten-aged girls in dresses accepting a bouquet of flowers from little boys in oversized suits during what appears to be a mock date.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Michelle Ann Abate on Children’s Sexuality”

New Book: Children and Youth during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

James Marten is Professor and Chair of the History Department at Marquette University. He is author or editor of more than a dozen books, including in this series Children in Colonial America; Children and Youth in a New Nation; and Children and Youth during the Civil War Era (all available from NYU Press).

Paula S. Fass is the Margaret Byrne Professor History at the University of California at Berkeley. She is the author of Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America, Outside In: Minorities and the Transformation of American Education, and The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s. She is the editor of The Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society and (with Mary Ann Mason) Childhood in America (available from NYU Press).

In the decades after the Civil War, urbanization, industrialization, and immigration marked the start of the Gilded Age, a period of rapid economic growth but also social upheaval. Reformers responded to the social and economic chaos with a “search for order,” as famously described by historian Robert Wiebe. Most reformers agreed that one of the nation’s top priorities should be its children and youth, who, they believed, suffered more from the disorder plaguing the rapidly growing nation than any other group.

Children and Youth during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era explores both nineteenth century conditions that led Progressives to their search for order and some of the solutions applied to children and youth in the context of that search. Edited by renowned scholar of children’s history James Marten, the collection of eleven essays offers case studies relevant to educational reform, child labor laws, underage marriage, and recreation for children, among others. Including important primary documents produced by children themselves, the essays in this volume foreground the role that youth played in exerting agency over their own lives and in contesting the policies that sought to protect and control them.

2014 Outreach Grant Report: Working Group on Children

On June 4, 2014, an SHCY Outreach Grant helped the Working Group on Children at the University of California, Santa Cruz bring Mary Niall Mitchell, Joseph Tregle Professor in Early American History, Ethel and Herman Midlo Chair in New Orleans Studies, and Associate Professor at the University of New Orleans, to present her current project exploring children, photography, and the politics of abolition in the nineteenth century United States. Mitchell, author of Raising Freedom’s Child: Black Children and Visions of the Future after Slavery (New York University Press, 2010), presented “The Slave Girl in the Archive: A Tale of Paper and Glass,” a talk drawing on her current research. Mitchell’s project tells the story of a girl named Mary Botts, the first light-skinned formerly enslaved child to be photographed for abolitionist purposes. Beginning with the deposit of the child’s daguerreotype portrait at the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1921, Mitchell unspools the history of Mary’s family and their long efforts to be free from slavery. “The Slave Girl in the Archive” uses this narrative to explore connections between the lives of enslaved people and the variety of documents and artifacts that contain traces of them. The talk attracted a lively audience of about thirty-five people, drawing faculty and graduate students from across disciplines, including History, Literature, Politics, and Philosophy to the campus’s weekly Cultural Studies Colloquium.

In addition to the talk, Prof. Mitchell led a workshop directly addressing the possibilities and challenges of writing the history of children. The workshop, entitled “Archival Challenges: Children, Slavery and Nineteenth Century Visual Culture,” included a discussion of pre-circulated readings, including selections from Robin Bernstein’s Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (New York University Press, 2011), Mary Langdon’s Ida May: A Story of Things Actual and Possible (London, 1854), Alan Trachtenberg, “Reading Lessons: Stories of a Daguerreotype,” Nineteenth Century Contexts 22 (2001), 537-557, and Mitchell’s recent piece in the New York Times’ Disunion blog, “The Young White Faces of Slavery,” January 30, 2014. The workshop was attended by a mixture of faculty and graduate student participants in the Working Group on Children. The conversation ranged widely but was particularly focused on the value of fiction in attempting to reconstruct the historical values attached to childhood, as well as the importance of historical investigation to illuminate the distance between sentimental representations and children’s historical lives. The Institute for Humanities Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz also provided support for both events.

For more information on the event, including audio of the talk, please visit this website:

CFChapter: Indigenous Youth In The “British World”

The co-editors of “Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World: Historical Perspectives” – under contract with Palgrave Macmillan for publication in 2015 – seek an additional chapter for the volume. We are looking for an expert contribution of up to 6,500 words on the theme of indigenous youth within the historical setting (and conceptualization) of the “British World,” to sit alongside 15 other chapters already commissioned. The proposed chapter can address any non-Australian part of the British World, such as southeast Asia, Africa, Canada or the Caribbean.

There is a tight deadline for this submission, and details concerning this and other aspects of the publication can be discussed by emailing the editors at the following addresses:;

We will be seeking an abstract of c. 400 words and a CV from prospective contributors; please submit these by 31 July to both addresses detailed above. All candidates will be notified of the outcome in early August.


The Society for the History of Children and Youth will award two $500 grants for events that take place in 2015 to projects deemed worthy by the Outreach and Executive Committees of the SHCY.

$500 grants will help defray expenses for speakers, workshops, and other scholarly events fully or partially devoted to the history of children and youth. Funded events cannot conflict with the SHCY’s 8th Biennial Conference (June 24-26, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia).

Possible uses:
•Keynote speakers or panelists
•Printed materials
•Support for students attending the event

Application deadline: November 1, 2014.

Terms of the grants:
•Applicants must be members of SHCY. (See for membership information.)
•Recipients of 2013 and 2014 Outreach Grants cannot receive 2015 grants, and no one may apply for more than one 2015 grant.
•Funds will be distributed directly to host departments or institutions prior to the event.
•SHCY must be acknowledged as co-sponsor on all print and web-based materials and announcements, and, when appropriate, in speaker introductions. When possible, use the SHCY logo and link to the SHCY website.
•SHCY must be sent PDF’s or links to announcements and promotional materials before the event.
•A report must be submitted to the chairs of the Outreach Committee no later than thirty days after the funded event. It should consist of the following:
—Blog post describing the event for use on the SHCY website
—Summary of the attendance (size, makeup)
—Copy of appropriate printed materials or screenshots of websites
—Description of the actual expenses covered by the grant

Note: If the event funded by the grant is part of a larger conference or other function, the funded portion of the conference must be identified as discrete portions of the program and labeled as co-sponsored by SHCY.

One-page applications should be submitted as PDF files via email to the Outreach Committee co-chairs Rebecca de Schweinitz and Luke Springman. They should include:
—Date, location, and primary sponsor of event
—Description of audience (size, makeup)
—Total cost of event and other confirmed or potential funding sources
—Description of event that articulates how it contributes to all or part of SHCY’s mission: promoting the history of children and youth by supporting research about childhood, youth cultures, and the experience of young people across diverse times and places; fostering study across disciplinary and methodological boundaries; providing venues for scholars to communicate with one another; and promoting excellence in scholarship.

*Note: The Committee may request additional information from applicants about their event and about the participants and intended audience.

The Outreach Committee will recommend awardees to the SHCY Executive Committee, which will make final decisions. Recipients of grants will be announced by December 12, 2014.

Outreach Grant Report: Twenty Years a-Growing Conference

Twenty years a-Growing: Conference Report

On the 9th and 10th of June, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin, hosted ‘Twenty years a-Growing: an international conference on the history of Irish childhood from the medieval to the modern age.’ This conference was the first of its kind in Ireland and explored various historical narratives of Irish childhood. Over fifty speakers participated in this highly successful conference, with speakers travelling from Canada, Israel, and the UK, as well as from Irish institutions. Papers were delivered in both the English and Irish languages.

The participants came from a variety of disciplines and the topics presented included cultural, literary, educational, social, and institutional history, along with the history of Irish childhood in the transnational context. Dr Lindsey Earner-Byrne (University College Dublin) delivered the first keynote address and provided an historiographical overview of Irish childhood to date. Leading expert on the history of childhood, Professor Hugh Cunningham (University of Kent) dealt with the dominant narratives of childhood and the extent to which these narratives reflect the reality of children’s lives past and present. Professor Pat Dolan (NUI Galway) emphasized the importance of family histories in our understanding of childhood in the past, and the final plenary speaker, Professor Declan Kiberd (University of Notre Dame) addressed the archaic and avant-garde nature of childhood in the literature of major Irish authors from Swift and Wilde to Yeats and Joyce.

Building on the success of this conference, a History of Irish Childhood Research Network has been established to facilitate future collaborative research on the history of Irish childhood. Further information is available at The conference committee is also building up a bibliography of archival sources on the history of Irish childhood, which will soon be available on the internet.

The conference committee would like to acknowledge the financial support provided by the Society for the History of Childhood and Youth in the form of an outreach grant.

Conference Committee: Gaye Ashford, Marnie Hay, Ríona Nic Congáil (St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra), Sarah-Anne Buckley (National University of Ireland, Galway), Mary Hatfield (Trinity College Dublin), Jutta Kruse (University of Limerick).

Corinne T. Field on “boomerang kids”

Corinne T. Field, author of The Struggle for Equal Adulthood: Gender, Race, Age, and the Fight for Citizenship in Antebellum America. In the fight for equality, early feminists often cited the infantilization of women and men of color as a method used to keep them out of power. Field argues that attaining adulthood—and the associated political rights, economic opportunities, and sexual power that come with it—became a common goal for both white and African American feminists between the American Revolution and the Civil War. The idea that black men and all women were more like children than adult white men proved difficult to overcome, however, and continued to serve as a foundation for racial and sexual inequality for generations.

In the following post, Field addresses recent media attention on “boomerang kids” who return home to live with their parents after graduating from college (often with a lot of student debt).

CFP: Child Displacement, Appropriation and Circulation

Workshop: Child displacement, appropriation and circulation: management techniques aimed at children and their families in environments of inequality and violence

1ª Bienal Latinoamericana de Infancias y Juventudes
Manizales, Colombia
17th-21st November 2014

In Latin America, such as in other regions of the world, armed conflicts, dictatorships, political repression, the devastation produced by wars and the development of diverse mechanisms of reproductive government (Morgan & Roberts 2012) have resulted in the displacement and/or separation of numerous children from their birth families. Either through national or international adoption, foster care, and institutionalization or through the appropriation and substitution of their identities, many children have been placed in family, cultural and/or national environments that are different from those of their birth environment. Aiming at different objectives according to the diverse socio-historical and political contexts, such usually coactive practices, in some cases unprecedented, were combined with governmentality techniques (bureaucratic and judicial procedures) and long-standing “life policies” (Fassin 2007) (customary ways of thinking and social ideas on the “protection” and “salvation” of children and their families and/or communities). These were extended and widely accepted thanks to “truth systems” (Foucault, 1978), anchored to (disciplinary) morality standards through which private reproductive behaviors and their public expressions can be governed.

Continue reading “CFP: Child Displacement, Appropriation and Circulation”

Nicholas L. Syrett wins Fass-Sandin Prize

Robin Bernstein (committee chair), Melissa Klapper, and Pamela Riney-Kehrberg unanimously selected Nicholas L. Syrett’s article, “‘I did and I Don’t Regret It’: Child Marriage and the Contestation of Childhood in the United States,” to receive the Fass-Sandin Prize for the best article (in English) on the History of Children and Youth published in 2013. Twenty articles were submitted for the committee’s consideration.

Syrett’s essay, published in the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth (vol. 6, Spring 2013), uses an exceptionally rich and multi-dimensional field of evidence, including legal cases, archival newspapers, and census data, to argue that at the turn of the twentieth century, some minors used early marriage as a way to gain agency over their own lives and in some cases to contest the state of childhood itself. This is an original, counter-intuitive argument that challenges the received dogma that child marriage is by definition exclusively oppressive to youth. The Prize Committee particularly admired the way that Syrett used legal evidence to unearth youths’ perspectives on—and manipulations of—the law. Syrett’s essay is a significant and unforgettable work of scholarship. Syrett is an associate professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado.

Continue reading “Nicholas L. Syrett wins Fass-Sandin Prize”

Guest Post: Rachel Remmel on the Graded School in 19th Century Boston

In this blog post, Rachel Remmel places her forthcoming article, “The Spaces of the Schoolhouse and the City: Gender and Class in Boston Education, 1830-1832,” in its historical and historiographical contexts. Remmel is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester. Her research focuses on school architecture and museum history, both institutions intended to transmit and shape values. Her book project is The Origins of the American School Building: Boston Public School Architecture, 1789–1860.

This article represents part of my larger book project, which explores why, in 1847, Bostonians developed the graded school, which divides students by age and ability into small, individually taught classrooms. This model is so ubiquitous and familiar within the United States that it is difficult for many to envision that there were ever alternatives. Yet the graded school was not inevitable, and the first half of the nineteenth century was a time of widespread experimentation with school organization. In order to understand the success of the graded school, it is important to understand what problems Bostonians thought it solved and what drawbacks the alternatives presented. The failed reforms of 1830-1832 represent a clear snapshot of both the problems Bostonians perceived and the drawbacks of one alternative reorganization.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Rachel Remmel on the Graded School in 19th Century Boston”

Special Issue: The Media’s Evolving Role in Sex Education

Entertainment media have long been identified as having a key role to play in education about sex and relationships.

All too often in studies of sexual learning the media have been assessed for their potentially negative effects on young people. For example, studies have correlated consumption of particular media forms with early sexual intercourse or teenage pregnancy, while parents and schools have been seen as providing a positive corrective.

However empirical research shows that this simple binary is not always accurate: in some instances entertainment media may offer positive information and representations while school or parents often offer more moralizing or conservative perspectives. For example, a young person growing up in a homophobic family may see happy queer characters in a sitcom; or young people attending a school thatemphasizes young women’s role as gatekeepers and controllers of men’s sexuality may find helpful TV dramas that explore women’s active sexual agency.

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People & Things on the Move: Migration and Material Culture

People & Things on the Move: Migration and Material Culture

We seek papers for a workshop to be held May 13-15, 2015 dedicated to exploring the relationship between migration and material culture in the modern world (the 18th century to the present), sponsored by the University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. We welcome paper proposals from both academics (including advanced graduate students) and practitioners—historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, public historians, librarians, archivists, and museum curators—who are working on the intersection between migration and material culture in any region of the world. We hope that selected papers will be published as a special issue or forum for the American Historical Review.

Both migration and material culture have profoundly shaped societies and cultures across the globe in the modern era. This workshop will define migration broadly, to include intra-state, international and intra-imperial migration, as well as “forced” and “voluntary” migrations. Our use of material culture is also inclusive, embracing the objects that furnish domestic interiors, architecture, tools, books, toys, clothing, modes of transportation, musical instruments, dance, and even food. The precise relationships between migration and material culture have varied dramatically across time, space, and political and social context. Our goal is to analyze and thereby be able to explain the diversity of these relationships and experiences.

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SHCY Sponsored Sessions at AHA 2015

The Society for the History of Children and Youth Outreach Committee is soliciting proposals from SHCY members who would like to participate in a single-sponsored session at the American Historical Association Annual Conference, to be held in New York City, January 2-5, 2015. We are interested in possibly putting together two sessions. One would be a “state-of-the-field” session, and the other would focus on teaching the history of children and youth, and/or integrating children’s history into survey, methods, and education classes.

Please send a brief (500 words or less) proposal for your contribution to one of these panels, along with a one-page CV to Rebecca de Schweinitz ( by May 2, 2014. (Single-sponsored sessions appear on the regular AHA program and are held at the conference venue. Members who will be participating in other sessions at AHA are not eligible.)

SHCY 2014 Outreach Grants

SHCY is pleased to announce that the following Outreach Grants have been awarded for 2014:

$500 Grants
Catherine Jones (University of California, Santa Cruz)
“The Slave Girl in the Archive: A Tale on Paper and Glass,” workshop and talk by Mary Niall Mitchell (University of New Orleans), June 4, 2014, UC Santa Cruz.

Mary Hatfield (Trinity College, Dublin) and Riona Nic Congail (St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra)
“Twenty Years A-Growing: An International Conference on the History of Irish Childhood from the Medieval to the Modern Age,” June 9-10, 2014, Dublin City University.
Conference Website:

$1500 Grant
Michael Grossberg (Indiana University) and Barbara Young Welke (University of Minnesota)
“The Law and the Child in Historical Perspective,” June 1-2, University of Minnesota.
Conference Website:

Guest Post: José Pacheco dos Santos Júnior on the Documents of the Labor Court in Brazil

José Pacheco dos Santos Jr. is graduate student (master’s degree) in Economic History at University of São Paulo (USP-Brazil) and researcher at the Laboratory of Social History of Labor in the State University of Southwest Bahia (LHIST / UESB). His research interests are: History of Childhood and Youth, History of Law, Economic History and Social History of Labor, with an emphasis on child labor in the twentieth century, labor laws and Labor Court in Brazil at the time of the civil-military dictatorship. He has a research grant from Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES).

On October 9th, 1967, Uady Bulos, lawyer and representative of Roberto Ramos, a Brazilian single minor boy, visited the office of the Labor Court in Vitória da Conquista (Bahia, Brazil), and recorded a labor complaint against his customer’s workplace, a Regional Radio Station. Bulos claimed that the young man was unjustly suspended services for five days, under the allegation that he had gone to the company in a condition of drunkenness on a Sunday. The failure of the employer to comply with the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT), that guaranteed the payment of minimum wage for workers, was also recorded in the initial papers of the lawsuit by the young worker’s lawyer.

Continue reading “Guest Post: José Pacheco dos Santos Júnior on the Documents of the Labor Court in Brazil”

Special Issue of WSQ: CHILD

Call for Papers, Poetry and Prose: WSQ Special Issue, Spring 2015: CHILD

Guest Editors: Sarah Chinn and Anna Mae Duane

Children have always been fraught subjects for feminist scholarship. Women are alternately infantilized and subsumed in service of children. Indeed, nowhere are women’s rights more assiduously attacked than around the question of their biological capacity to bear and raise children. Our concerns in this issue of WSQ, though, are children and childhood themselves: representations of children, children’s experiences, and children’s place in the world.

Recent scholarship in childhood studies has taken on core assumptions around children, especially children’s innocence and their removal from the realm of work and financial gain. And yet children play a crucial role in the global economy. As consumers, children represent an immense market. As producers and workers, children manufacture goods of every kind. Children constitute a significant stream of bodies for trafficking networks of domestic and other kinds of labor, including sex work. And children tried as adults populate prison systems around the world, especially in the United States.

Continue reading “Special Issue of WSQ: CHILD”

Fun with Dick and Jane: Gender and Childhood

“Fun with Dick and Jane: Gender and Childhood”: A Gender Studies Conference at the University of Notre Dame
South Bend, Indiana
December 4-6, 2014

In recent years, there has been great interest in questions of gender and childhood, ranging from issues around boys wearing princess costumes to school; to Disney princess culture; to parents refusing to announce a baby’s biological sex; to pre-teen children coming out as gay, lesbian, and queer; to toy companies marketing toys by gender; to gender-related bullying, and more.

How are children gendered? How do we account for transgender children? How have ideas about girls and boys changed historically? How are children hailed as gendered consumers? How do schools inculcate ideas about gender? How do children’s books promote ideas about gender? How do changing ideas about parenting relate to children’s gendering?

This conference seeks to explore issues of gender and childhood through multiple lenses and from a wide range of disciplines. We welcome papers on gender and childhood in media, literature, history, anthropology, biology, architecture, philosophy, art history, sociology, education, and more. We are especially open to interdisciplinary approaches.

Continue reading “Fun with Dick and Jane: Gender and Childhood”

Call for Nominations: Grace Abbott Book Award

The Society for the History of Children and Youth (SHCY) is pleased to call for nominations for the best book published in English on the history of children, childhood, or youth (broadly construed) published in 2013. The award consists of a plaque and a check for $500. The winner will be announced in mid-summer.

Nominations are invited from publishers, editors, scholars, and self-nominations by authors. Current members of the SHCY award committee, the executive committee, and officers of the society are ineligible.

Nominations must be postmarked by April 30, 2014. Send a copy of the book, physical or electronic, to each of the book award committee members at the following addresses:

E. Wayne Carp (Chair)
Pacific Lutheran University
Department of History
12180 Park Ave. South
Tacoma WA 98447-0003

Ishita Pande
Department of History
49 Bader Lane
Watson Hall, Room 212
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6

Steven Mintz
Executive Director, Institute for Transformational Learning
414 O. Henry Hall
601 Colorado St.
Austin, TX 78701

Call for Nominations: Fass-Sandin Prize for Best Article

Call for Nominations: Fass-Sandin Prize for the best article (in English) on the History of Children and Youth published in 2013.

The Society for the History of Children and Youth (SHCY) is pleased to call for nominations for the best article in English on the history of children, childhood, or youth (broadly construed) published in 2013 in a print or online journal. The prize consists of a plaque and a check for $250. The winner will be announced in mid-summer. The Fass-Sandin awards for articles published in Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish will be announced separately.

Nominations are invited from publishers, editors, scholars, and authors. Current members of the SHCY award committee, the executive committee, and officers of the society are ineligible.

Send a PDF or photocopy of the article to the chair of the prize committee, Robin Bernstein, at The deadline for nominations is April 15, 2014. The other members of the committee are Melissa Klapper and Pamela Riney-Kehberg.

Job: Professor of Childhood and Youth

Edge Hill University


Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Salary: Negotiable
Location: Ormskirk
Hours: Full time

Edge Hill is a dynamic university with a clear sense of direction, a forward-thinking culture and significant resources to invest in its future. The University seeks exceptional individuals to join our intellectually stimulating, creative and inclusive community.

The Faculty of Arts & Sciences is a diverse grouping of academic and professional traditions, with a strong sense of identity and a fast-growing reputation for its research and teaching. A number of openings have arisen for highly motivated and enthusiastic individuals to join the Faculty. We are particularly keen to continue to build our research capacity, and welcome applications from established researchers or those committed to developing their research careers.

We are seeking to appoint a Professor of Early childhood Studies. Candidates for professorships are expected to have a strong research and teaching profile, a successful track record in research income generation, experience of supervising doctoral vivas and of the external examining of research students.

This post offers the opportunity to contribute to the development of research and knowledge transfer in a key area within the Faculty’s portfolio. You will join a team of staff with research strengths in areas such as the law and policy for young children and families; social and development psychology; childhood education and care; diversity and equality; safeguarding young children and young people; international perspectives on children and families and youth culture.

The post will require an individual with the ability to integrate research and teaching, and with demonstrable experience of close collaborative working with other academics and professionals. Experience of contributing actively to the further development of their discipline through professional networks will also be important.

For informal enquiries about any of these vacancies, you may wish to contact Professor George Talbot, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Dean of Arts & Sciences, at

For an online application form and job description, please visit

Ref: EHP0022-0114
Closing Date: 5 Mar 2014
Date Posted: 22 Jan 2014
More Information

Please send completed applications by e-mail to or to Human Resources, Edge Hill University, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, Lancashire, L39 4QP.

Job: Assistant Professor of Educational Studies

The Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at the University of Oklahoma invites applications for the position
of Assistant Professor (Tenure-Track) of Educational Studies (EDS). The individual we seek will have expertise in History of Education. This position will support an interdisciplinary
program in Educational Studies that offers M.Ed. and Ph.D. degrees with graduate specialties in philosophy, history,and sociology of education while also serving undergraduate teacher education and graduate-level Women’s and Gender Studies. Other graduate programs in this department prepare ethical administrators for schools, colleges, universities, and continuing education. The successful candidate will be expected to serve on thesis and dissertation committees, earn Graduate Faculty status, and eventually chair doctoral committees. A sponsoring member of the American Educational Studies Association, the University of Oklahoma is a Research I flagship institution committed to excellence in research, teaching, and professional service, with a student body of 26,000 on the Norman campus. More information about the position, program area, and institution can be found at the following links:


EDS Program:


Guest Post: Malia McAndrew on American Beauty Culture

Malia McAndrew blogs about the larger contexts of American “beauty culture” as they related to her forthcoming article “Japanese American Beauty Pageants and Minstrel Shows: The Performance of Gender and Race by Nisei Youth during World War II.” McAndrew is assistant professor of history at John Carroll University who regularly teaches an undergraduate history course on Twentieth Century Youth Culture and is currently finishing a monograph entitled Beauty Culture Battlegrounds: Race, Sex, and America’s Redefinition of the Feminine Ideal, 1945-1972.

The Pursuit of Perfection: A Historian’s Reflections on the Meanings of American Beauty Culture

Historically, the 4th of July has been a popular day for beauty contests in the United States. In this 1940 image girls of all ages are shown lining up for a local pageant in Salisbury, Maryland. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection. <a href=

While researching the history of Japanese American beauty pageants, fashion shows, clothing trends and hairstyles for my article in this month’s edition of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, I often found myself contemplating our society’s current obsession with youth, beauty, and physical perfection. While my article focuses on the experiences of one very small subset of Americans –young people who came of age inside U.S. incarceration camps some seventy years ago– the daily struggles these youngsters faced will no doubt seem familiar to the modern reader. Inside the camps, young people worried about their appearance, they spent hours trying to look more attractive, and placed great value upon popular American standards of beauty. Today, many of us continue to obsess about our hair, our weight, our clothes, and every other aspect of our physical appearance. Particularly for young women and girls, an intense drive to model our bodies after predominant standards of beauty leaves many of us feeling perpetually inadequate. As a historian, I encourage others to look to the past for perspective on our contemporary situation. Indeed, I suggest that by looking at beauty culture’s history we can begin to reconsider our own practices, understand how the society we live in came to be, and chart a different future.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Malia McAndrew on American Beauty Culture”

Guest Post: Jennifer Lucko on her Journey from Field Research to Article

In “Ten Years Later,” Jennifer Lucko narrates the winding journey from field research to her forthcoming JHCY article, “‘Here your ambitions are illusions’: Boundaries of Integration and Ethnicity among Ecuadorian Immigrant Teenagers in Madrid,” and reflects on the lives of the young people she encountered. Lucko received her PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley and is currently an assistant professor in the School of Education at Dominican University of California. She completed over sixteen months of ethnographic research in Madrid, Spain examining how colonial and post-colonial socio-economic hierarchies are reproduced in immigration scenarios. She is currently participating in a collaborative research project entitled, “Estrategias de Integración Social y Prevención del Racismo en Las Escuelas/ Social Participation Strategies and Racism Prevention in Schools” funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. This study was framed within the research project “Estrategias de Integración Social y Prevención del Racismo en Las Escuelas/ Social Participation Strategies and Racism Prevention in Schools” (FFI2009-08762), funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation in Spain.

Ten Years Later
“’Here your ambitions are illusions’: Boundaries of Integration and Ethnicity among Ecuadorian Immigrant Teenagers in Madrid” was a long time in the making. It has been almost ten years since I began preliminary fieldwork in Madrid during the summer of 2004 and first encountered the discourse of integration that is so pervasive in schools, churches, non-government organizations and after-school programs in Spain. At the time, I knew I wanted to analyze the implications of this discourse for the immigrant teenagers I had met who were struggling to find their way in Madrid, even though I didn’t quite understand why this discourse increasingly rubbed me the wrong way as I became friends with the people participating in my study. Yet after I returned to California this writing project kept being put aside while I began a tenure-track career, got married, and had two children. So when I finally carved out space during the summer of 2012 to devote myself to writing this article, my first task was to reread the field notes I had recorded daily to take me back to the academic year I had spent in Madrid. And it worked. As I read through each daily entry, I was overwhelmed with the same emotions I had felt so many years ago in Spain—a deep sadness intertwined with an overwhelming sense of helplessness, along with the same nagging self-doubt questioning the purpose of my research. Why do this work? Why write? What, ultimately, was I trying to achieve?

Maisha Winn (2014) introduces the volume she edited with Django Paris with a quote from her co-researcher, the teacher of a classroom in the Bronx, New York where she conducted fieldwork, who affirms that she has been a “worthy witness” in a collaborative project with his students. That is, Winn was not in his classroom solely to gather data for her own research project, but was a partner in his work as a teacher and mentor to the youth poets who were his students. This quote makes me wonder, even if I was a worthy witness during the months of my fieldwork, since distance and time have taken their toll on my relationships with the families I once knew so well, am I still a worthy witness? Is writing this article enough? I know that it will advance me one step further in my professional career, but what about the teenagers who told me their stories?

In a subsequent chapter of this edited volume, Kinloch and San Pedro (2014) propose “the idea of researchers moving beyond doing work for a purpose or for people to researchers doing work with and alongside others” (p. 24). During the study that I analyze in this article, my fieldwork was alongside others, but the research was not. So while I spent my days with the teenagers I discuss in this article and participated in their lives at school and home, my research was not their research. Again I am faced with the question, am I a worthy witness to these students now that my findings have been published in this article?

I do not know what has happened in the lives of the teenagers in this study over the last few years. When I think of their day-to-day struggles, I continue to feel helpless and depressed. And I still question my role as a researcher in Madrid. As I reread the stories of Ana and Cristina in this article I am left with the sense that writing is not enough. At the same time, I believe that the emotions that were with me when I completed my dissertation research and that motivated my writing so many years later can help me to become a better researcher. If I am able to return to Madrid, as I hope to do this fall, I can research with and alongside teachers and youth grappling with new processes of belonging and exclusion taking shape in Spain as recent, large-scale immigration dovetails with a widespread economic recession. In the meantime, why do I write? What am I trying to achieve? I hope to engage with others working for educational equity and social justice, even knowing that this article is not enough.

Django Paris and Maisha T. Winn. “To Humanize Research.” In Humanizing Research: Decolonizing Qualitative Inquiry with Youth and Communities, edited by Django Paris and Maisha Winn, xiii–xx. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, 2014.

Valerie Kinloch and Timothy San Pedro. “The Space Between Listening and Storying: Foundations for Projects in Humanization.” In Humanizing Research: Decolonizing Qualitative Inquiry with Youth and Communities, edited by Django Paris and Maisha Winn, xiii–xx. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, 2014.

Lifework and Legacy: Reviewing Iona and Peter Opie’s Contribution to the Study of Play

International Journal of Play: Call for papers for forthcoming Special Issue Lifework and Legacy: Reviewing Iona and Peter Opie’s Contribution to the Study of Play

The work of Iona (1923– ) and Peter Opie (1918–1982) on the play and games of school-aged children will be familiar to many who study the social and cultural aspects of children’s lives.

Working as independent and unfunded scholars, the Opies published five books on this topic: The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959), Children’s Games in Street and Playground (1969), The Singing Game (1985), Children’s Games with Things (1997), and Iona Opie’s solo volume, The People in the Playground (1993). Distilled from data collected principally from schoolchildren during the period 1950–80 (now held at the British Library Sound Archive, the Folklore Society Archives, and the Bodleian Libraries), as well as pioneering historical research, these publications have been widely read and extremely influential.

Continue reading “Lifework and Legacy: Reviewing Iona and Peter Opie’s Contribution to the Study of Play”

Children and Childhood Network of SSHA: CFPapers or Session Proposals

We invite you to participate in the 39th annual meeting of the Social Science History Association by submitting a paper or session proposal to the Children and Childhood Network of the SSHA. The conference will take place November 6-9, 2014 in Toronto. For more information on the conference as well as the general call for proposals, please refer to the SSHA website: The deadline for full panel or individual paper proposals is February 14, 2014.

The association particularly emphasizes interdisciplinary and transnational research, and the annual meeting provides a very supportive environment in which to present new work. The theme of the 2014 conference is “Inequalities: Politics, Policy and the Past,” though papers on other aspects of the history of children and childhood are also welcome. Complete panels must include at least 4 papers and presenters from more than one academic institution. Other formats, including roundtable discussions and book sessions, are also possible. Please do get in touch with the network chairs if you have an idea for a session but need help gathering presenters. Among the topics we are especially interested in exploring are children as migrants; children and revolutions; indigenous children & youth, child labor and globalization; gendered experiences of childhood; and inequalities in children’s literature.

Continue reading “Children and Childhood Network of SSHA: CFPapers or Session Proposals”

SHCY Executive Committee Expands Best Article Award

The SHCY Executive Committee has unanimously voted to name the Society’s Best Article Award the Fass-Sandin Prize. Three awards will be given each year; one for an article published in English and two for articles published in languages other than English (see more below). The awards will consist of a plaque and $250. Winners will be announced each summer on the SHCY website and will also be recognized at the next SHCY conference banquet.

The expansion of the award to include articles published in languages other than English reflects the Society’s continuing interest in reflecting the global reach of the field. Naming the award after past presidents Paula Fass and Bengt Sandin recognizes their role in creating the Society and in developing its international focus and identity.

Look for the calls for nominations on this website, on H-Net, and in emails from Secretary-Treasurer Kriste Lindenmeyer.

The awards for articles published in languages other than English will follow a three-year cycle:

In 2014, two awards will be offered for articles in the three Scandinavian languages published in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

In 2015, the awards will be offered for articles in French and German published in 2012, 2013, 2014.

In 2016, the awards will be offered for articles in Italian and Spanish published in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The cycle will begin again in 2017. Eligibility is based solely on the language in which the article is published, not on the residence or nationality of the author.

Reproductive Tourism: Cross-Border Travel for Abortion and Fertility Services

Reproductive Tourism: Cross-border travel for abortion and fertility services
Edited by Christabelle Sethna and Gayle Davis

In recent years, there has been an awakening of academic and media interest in the concept of medical tourism. Medical tourism, involving travel to obtain medical services outside one’s healthcare jurisdiction, has been characterised as a major transnational growth industry and one which raises fascinating and challenging logistical, legal and ethical questions.

However, among its current weaknesses, the existing literature fails to explore adequately the gendered dimensions of medical tourism, particularly the travel of women. Thus, we currently know little specifically about women’s access to medical services within this medical tourism framework.

A particular area of health care which demands to be addressed through this gendered lens is reproductive tourism. Reproductive tourism is considered a subset of medical tourism, but it is too often associated narrowly with travel to help women designated infertile conceive a child.

The reproductive tourism that we want to examine involves cross-border travel for abortion and fertility services. Given the significant number of women who seek out both of these services and the complex issues which each raises, a collection focusing on women’s cross-border travel, both domestic and international, for the purposes of abortion and/or fertility services, will fill a major gap in the literature on medical tourism.

Continue reading “Reproductive Tourism: Cross-Border Travel for Abortion and Fertility Services”

SHCY Co-Sponsorship for AHA

Call for 2015 AHA proposals for SCHY Co-sponsorship

The Outreach Committee of the Society for the History of Children and Youth is soliciting panel proposals that focus on the history of children and youth for the 2015 American Historical Association Annual Meeting (Jan. 2-5, 2015 in New York City) for possible co-sponsorship.

Submit full panel proposals to Outreach co-chair, Rebecca de Schweinitz at no later than Wednesday Feb. 5, 2014. Panel organizers will be notified by Feb. 11th of the committee’s decisions. If accepted for co-sponsorship, organizers will be given instructions on submitting their proposal as a co-sponsored panel.

All members of co-sponsored panels must be current members of SHCY. Membership information can be found here.

SHCY may decide to single-sponsor panels approved for co-sponsorship but not accepted by the AHA program committee.

AHA call for proposals:

Theorizing Childhood: Citizenship, Rights, Participation

Call for Papers
Sociology of Childhood – Theorizing Childhood: Citizenship, Rights, Participation

The Research Network, Sociology of Children and Childhood hereby announces the mid-term symposium which will take place in Modena (Italy) from 21st to 23rd May, 2014. The organisation of the symposium will be undertaken at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

The focus of the symposium will be on theorizing childhood, in particular the areas of citizenship, rights and participation, exploring the different and various perspectives that can include these topics in the broader field of childhood studies and Sociology.

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Childhood and Gender in Time

CALL FOR PAPERS: Genesis on Childhood and Gender in Time

The journal Genesis. Rivista della Società Italiana delle Storiche calls for papers for a special issue dedicated to “childhood and gender in time.”

The nature of childhood and its significance as a separate phase of life are at the centre of a process of critical rethinking, which is generating new and challenging interdisciplinary research. We would like to explore the social construction of gender in childhood, from a transnational and interdisciplinary perspective, giving particular attention to the role of play, toys, and children’s literature. Our aim is to examine how gender norms and gender models have been formulated and propagated in different historical, geographical and cultural contexts, but also how those models have been appropriated, contested and possibly subverted. We are interested in the relationship between the effort of regulating children and the “agency” that children are able to express, particularly in the context of a children’s peer culture, in which play (broadly understood) has a central role.

Continue reading “Childhood and Gender in Time”

SHCY Panels at the American Historical Association

Are you headed to the AHA in Washington D.C. in the new year? If so, be sure to check out SHCY co-sponsored sessions at AHA:

Please also note these other panels which may be of interest (or include papers of interest) to SHCY members:

The Law and the Child in Historical Perspective, 1400-2000

CFP: The Law and the Child in Historical Perspective, 1400-2000 (June 1-2, 2014. University of Minnesota Law School)

The study of the history of children, youth and childhood has grown dramatically in the last two decades, making age a new category of historical analysis.  The Law and the Child will focus on law’s central role in changing understandings of childhood and children’s experiences, considering among other things selfhood, family, market relations, society, and state.  Our hope is for a broad reach geographically and chronologically, from the Medieval World to the Twenty-First Century, and for papers that consider the multiple sources that intersect in the legal construction of childhood and in children’s lived legal experiences.  These include race, class, gender, disability, sexuality, ethnicity, psychology, dependency, agency, citizenship, and (il)legitimacy.  We also hope papers will address topics in both civil and criminal law.  The conference, one of a series begun in 2007, is intended to showcase the work of junior scholars working the field of legal history and to bring them into conversation with senior scholars.  It is co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota Law School and History Department, the American Society for Legal History, the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, the Society for the History of Children and Youth, the Childhood and Youth Studies Across the Disciplines IAS Research Collaborative at the University of Minnesota, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and History Department, the University of Illinois College of Law, the University of Michigan Law School, and the University of Chicago Department of History.

Interested participants should submit a proposal of no more than 300 words, in Word format, accompanied by a cv of no more than 3 pages to Barbara Welke at  All proposals are due by 6 January 2014.  Applicants will be notified by email no later than 17 February 2014 whether their proposals have been accepted for presentation.  No previously published work will be accepted, as the conference is designed to provide a forum for productive and supportive discussion of works in progress.

Accepted participants will be required to submit a full paper, in Word format, of no more than 10,000 words by 1 May 2014.  All papers will be pre-circulated on a password-protected website, and read by all participants.  A modest travel and accommodations budget will be provided for all presenters.

Guest Post: Helle Strandgaard Jensen on Kermit’s Chubby Danish Cousin

Helle Strandgaard Jensen recently graduated from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy with her PhD entitled Defining the (In)appropriate: Scandinavian debates about the role of media in children’s lives, 1950-1985. She has written a number of articles on the history of children’s media and the epistemological failures of ‘moral panic’ theory. She starts as assistant professor of Film- and Media Studies at University of Copenhagen 1 February 2014.

At the small and narrow desks in the old buildings of the Danish National Archives, it is virtually impossible to avoid peeking at your neighbors’ documents. In this way I discovered that, unlike me, most of the archives’ users come there to study their own ancestry. Personally, family history never excited me much until recently when I discovered a very peculiar kinship relation between two TV-star hand-puppets!

What I found as I went through the archive’s documents was evidence that a very popular Danish TV hand-puppet, a little chubby frog named Kaj, was made with direct inspiration from Sesame Street’s Kermit. At first I just thought it a funny fact. Lately, however, my mind keeps returning to the kinship between the two frogs and the story it relates of transnational transfers, and the tension between globally-marketed children’s media and local demands of enculturation.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Helle Strandgaard Jensen on Kermit’s Chubby Danish Cousin”

Cute Studies

Call for Papers: “Cute Studies,” a special issue of the East Asian Journal of Popular Culture

Cuteness has a global reach: it is an affective response; an aesthetic category; a performative act of self-expression; and an immensely popular form of consumption. This themed issue of the East Asian Journal of Popular Culture is intended to launch the new, interdisciplinary, transnational academic field of Cute Studies.

Cute culture, a nineteenth century development in Europe and the US, with an earlier expression in Edo-era Japan, has flourished in East Asia since the 1970s, and around the world from the turn of the new millennium. This special issue seeks papers that engage with a wide variety of both the forms that express cute culture, and the platforms upon which its articulation depends. Thus, the field of Cute Studies casts a wide net, analyzing not only consumers of cute commodities, but also those who seek to enact, represent, or reference cuteness through personal presentation or behavior. Since these groups intermingle, cute culture may be seen as a type of fan community, in which the line between consumers and producers is continually renegotiated. Cute Studies also encompasses critical analyses of the creative works produced by practitioners such as artists, designers, and performers, as well as the circumstances that determine the production and dissemination of these works.

Continue reading “Cute Studies”

Guest Post: Nicholas L. Syrett on the History of Minors and Marriage in the United States

Nicholas L. Syrett is associate professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado and the author of The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities. He is writing a book on the history of minors and marriage in the United States and, with Corinne T. Field, coediting a volume on the significance of chronological age in American history to be published by NYU Press.

Writing the history of young people marrying in the United States, especially from a legal perspective, has largely meant focusing on the beginnings of marriages, and occasionally on their first year, during which time parents, married children, and various government officials and judges wrangled over their validity.  Indeed the article that I published in the JHCY focuses on the moment that legal minors married and how those marriages contested their status as children.  None of this, however, tells us all that much about how these youthful marriages actually turned out.  The fate of their marriages was, however, the focus of marriage and divorce reformers of the late nineteenth century, social workers of the early twentieth, and many social scientists of the mid-twentieth century.  And while the statistics became more reliable the further we get into the twentieth century, about one thing almost all of these groups agreed: youthful marriages were much more likely to end in divorce.

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American Identities in Literature and Culture

American Identities in Literature and Culture
First Annual Graham Letters and Culture Symposium
Saturday, 5 April 2014 at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois

We invite individual proposals for papers from Blackburn College students and alumni—as well as graduate students, independent scholars, and academics from across the country and around the world—for the Graham Letters and Culture Symposium celebrating Roy Graham’s fifty years of service to Blackburn College. We welcome proposals across a wide spectrum of time or geography or topic; this year’s theme is the creating and contesting of American identities in film, print, and sound.

Individuals who wish to contribute to the symposium should submit 250-word proposals and a one-page CV to Dr. Ren Draya (, Professor of English & Communications, Blackburn College) and Dr. Ian Aebel (; Assistant Professor of History, Texas A&M University-Kingsville) by Friday, 13 December 2013. Presentations should be planned for twenty minutes. All prospective speakers will be notified of a decision by Wednesday, 22 January 2014.

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Guest Post: Jill E. Anderson on Anne Emery’s Fictional Teen Heroine Dinny Gordon

Jill E. Anderson is the History, African-American Studies, and Women’s Studies Librarian at Georgia State University; she holds a PhD in US cultural and women’s/gender history from Rutgers University and an MSIS from the University of Texas at Austin. Her current project is on post-World War II girls’ intellectual culture, and she is blogging on this project at True Stories Backwards.

In my forthcoming Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth article, “Dinny Gordon, Intellectual: Anne Emery’s Postwar Junior Fiction and Girls’ Intellectual Culture,” I focus on popular novelist Anne Emery’s fictional teen heroine Dinny Gordon, an unusually bookish heroine for this genre.

DinnyGordonFreshmanDinny is consistently portrayed as a serious, engaged reader. Inspired to plan an archaeological tour abroad after reading a book on Pompeii while babysitting, she also creates an award-winning geology project on Pompeii. She finds her sister’s teen-oriented books frustrating, preferring instead to settle into Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. And in Sophomore, she falls asleep having finished Mary Renault’s novel on Theseus, The King Must Die, a birthday gift from her history-professor father. Prof. Gordon wakes Dinny to introduce her to his teaching assistant, Brad Kenyon, a graduate student in ancient history at the University of Chicago. Brad and Dinny develop a strongly intellectual relationship: he introduces her to the Oriental Institute and to a prominent Israeli archaeologist, and helps her secure a summer apprenticeship with the archaeologist. A serious-minded girl, Dinny refuses to date boys she doesn’t find interesting, holding out for both emotional and intellectual connection. It’s implied that she will find this with Brad, though she dates several other young men first.

Continue reading “Guest Post: Jill E. Anderson on Anne Emery’s Fictional Teen Heroine Dinny Gordon”

Representations of Childhood in Comics

CFP: Representations of Childhood in Comics

Childhood is now widely recognized as a social construct (Fass, Jenks, Mintz). As the artifice behind the construction of childhood has been revealed, there has been a marked increase in the analysis of children and childhood in contemporary culture (Demarr and Bakermann, Edelman, Latham, McLennan, Renner, Stockton). Despite the increase in scholarly attention, depictions of childhood in comics and other forms of comic art are ripe for further study. The forthcoming issue of the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, focusing on comics, picturebooks, and childhood, should provide interesting insights into these depictions. Yet there remains plenty of room for consideration regarding how different comics construct childhood. This is an especially interesting area of inquiry given the somewhat vexed association comic books have traditionally maintained with childhood. In an attempt to continue developing the scholarly focus on childhood, as well as comics, we seek proposals for
scholarly articles that analyze, explore and interrogate depictions of childhood in comics or comic art for inclusion in a book-length anthology.

Continue reading “Representations of Childhood in Comics”

Africa Focus: a Primary Source Collection

Africa Focus: Sights and Sounds of a Continent brings together an array of primary source materials related to the study of forty-five different countries. The collection features still images (photographs and slides) and audio recordings only, providing rich non-written sources for study and teaching. There are two search options: a thematic or subject search and a guided (more advanced) search.

For a complete website review, see Children & Youth in History. The website is available at

Neil Sutherland Prize for the Best Scholarly Article

Call for Submissions: Neil Sutherland Prize for the Best Scholarly Article published on the History of Children and Youth

Purpose: This award honours the pioneering work of Neil Sutherland in the history of children and youth by recognizing outstanding and innovative contributions to the field. The prize will be awarded by the History of Children and Youth Group ( in conjunction with the 2014 meeting of the Canadian Historical Association.

Eligibility: Articles published in English or French in scholarly journals and books between January 2012 and December 2013 will be eligible for consideration. There are no restrictions on time periods or national/international context. Award winners will demonstrate originality of scholarship and clear contribution to the study of the history of young people.

Submission of articles: Please submit a PDF copy of the published article by January 15, 2014 to Jason Ellis, Co-Chair, History of Children and Youth Group ( Please write “Sutherland Prize” in the subject line of your email. Self-nominations welcome.


Appel à candidatures pour le Prix Neil Sutherland pour le meilleur article publié dans le domaine de l’histoire de l’enfance et de la jeunesse.

Objectif: Le prix Neil-Sutherland en histoire de l’enfance et de la jeunesse, commémorant l’œuvre du professeur Neil Sutherland, vise à récompenser le meilleur article paru dans ce domaine. Le prix sera décerné par Le Groupe d’histoire de l’enfance et de la jeunesse ( dans le cadre de la Réunion Annuelle 2014 de la Société Historique du Canada.

Conditions d’admissibilité: Des articles publiés en anglais ou en français dans des revues et des ouvrages scientifiques entre Janvier 2012 et Décembre 2013 seront admissibles aux fins d’examen. Il n’y a pas de restrictions quant aux périodes de temps ou quant au contexte (national / international). Les lauréats seront récompensés pour le caractère innovant de leur recherche et pour leur contribution significative à l’étude de l’histoire des jeunes.

Consignes de la mise en candidature: soumettre une copie PDF de l’article publié au plus tard le 15 janvier 2014 à Jason Ellis, Co-président, Groupe d’histoire de l’enfance et de la jeunesse ( Veuillez s.-v.-p. inscrire « Prix Sutherland » dans le titre de votre courriel. Possibilité de présenter sa propre candidature.

The History of the Girl

CFP: Congress of the International Committee of Historical Sciences, special theme: The History of the Girl
Jinan, China, August 23-29, 2015

The Congress of the International Committee of Historical Sciences will be held in Jinan, China from 23-29 August 2015. One of the Specialised Themes focuses on the History of the Girl. The aim of this session is to bring together scholars working in the field and to identify common themes and differences in the history of the girl across the world. In order to establish some cohesion for the discussion the focus will be on girls aged from early adolescence to the early 20s. Paper proposals are welcome on all periods of time as well as from as wide a geographical span as possible.

Continue reading “The History of the Girl”

SHCY Outreach Grants 2014

The SHCY will award two $500 grants and one $1500 grant for events that take place in 2014 to projects deemed worthy by the Outreach and Executive Committees of the SHCY.

1. The $500 grants will help defray expenses for speakers, workshops, and other scholarly events fully or partially devoted to the history of children and youth.

Possible uses:
•Keynote speakers or panelists
•Printed materials
•Support for students attending the event

2. The $1500 grant will help offset the costs of a regional conference dedicated to the history of children and youth and held in 2014. The Society is particularly interested in supporting programs that address the the histories of children and youth in interdisciplinary and transnational ways.

Application deadline for both grants: November 15, 2013.

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Guest Post: Joy Schulz on Mining for Treasures

Joy Schulz, is a member of the History Faculty at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska. She is the recipient of a 2013-15 AHA “Bridging Cultures” grant, studying Atlantic and Pacific influences on U.S. history. Below she talks about her research for a Spring 2013 article in JHCY, and a forthcoming article on the missionary children in Hawai‘i to appear in Diplomatic History (Oxford University Press).

In researching my article on the white children of American missionaries to the Hawaiian kingdom during the nineteenth century, I had the pleasure to travel to the islands for archival research. Some of my colleagues suggested that I chose my topic for that very reason! While the islands are always beautiful, travel to them is expensive, and my time was limited. From a very practical standpoint, my research at Punahou and the Hawaiian Missions Children Society archives took on an extremely frantic pace as I attempted to gather as many documents as I could in a short amount of time. I pass on to my fellow researchers one method that worked well for me.

Punahou Punahou 2

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Geographies of Children’s Health and Wellbeing in Urban Environments

Call for Chapters: Geographies of Children’s Health and Wellbeing in Urban Environments

Editors: Christina Ergler (Otago University), Robin Kearns (The University of Auckland) & Karen Witten (Massey University)

We are preparing a proposal for an edited book on children’s health and wellbeing in urban environments for consideration to the Geographies of Health series published by Ashgate Press and are seeking proposals for contributions.


Children shape and are shaped by the conditions of everyday life. How they experience, negotiate and connect with or resist their surroundings impacts on their health and wellbeing. For example, environmental pollution, changing service landscapes and chronic poverty in cities impacts upon children’s health and wellbeing in many different ways. Trends such as increasing educational demands and engagement with new technologies alongside declining independent exploration of local environments and loss of contact with ‘nature’ suggest that children are losing their attachment to places. Children’s social and mental wellbeing is also shaped in relation to different family or parenting situations and practices. In brief, children’s health and wellbeing in urban environments is multifaceted and complex, embracing diverse dimensions, structures and scales. While health and wellbeing is an underlying theme in many recent publications in children’s geographies and the sociological studies of childhood, in this edited book we explicitly adopt this important focus.

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Guest Post: Adam Golub on Teaching Childhood Through Myth and Counter-Memory

Adam Golub is an associate professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton. His syllabus for AMST 420, “Childhood and Family in American Culture,” can be found on his faculty web page.

This semester marks the fourth time I will teach an upper-division American Studies elective called “Childhood and Family in American Culture.” One of my main goals in teaching the course is to help students engage critically with the deep nostalgia and powerful mythology that surrounds childhood in the United States. I want students to reflect on the ways in which the sentimental stories we tell ourselves about childhood—stories of innocence, happiness, comfort, and coming-of-age—tend to obscure the diverse experiences of actual children. One way I teach this disconnect between myth and experience is to start the course by pairing two childhood narratives: one that reinforces the American mythology of childhood, and one that exposes the margins and silences in that mythology.

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Ukiyo-e: a Search Engine for Japanese Woodblock Prints

Ukiyo-e is a dynamic research tool where researchers can search through over 213,000 Japanese woodblock prints from 1700s-present. There are two search options: by keyword or by image (upload or paste an image URL). John Resig, the site creator, has created this tool to address the need for “easily finding similar prints across multiple collections simultaneously.” This extends to unifying artist names, which often vary across collections or change, and translating the Kanji names. Resig lists all of the collections (museum, university, library, gallery, and private) that are searchable through the site.

A keyword search for “children” results in 1,183 unique images. An option called “Compare Prints” allows viewers to see different iterations of similar images, a huge help in seeing the changes in renderings over time. The site is clean and easy to navigate, providing as much information as possible about the prints as well as links to the collections in which they are housed.

The site is available at

Children in Film

CFP: Children in Film
SWPCA/ACA, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Feb 19-22, 2014
Deadline for Submissions: November 1, 2013

Proposals are now being accepted for the Children in Film Area of the 35th annual SWPCA/ACA conference February 19-22, 2014, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.( We welcome proposals that explore and interrogate the representations of children in Hollywood film, independent film, foreign film, and/or children’s film. Additional topics of interest concerning children in film or images of children in film may include, but are not limited to: coming-of-age; children of color; negotiations of racial/ethnic/cultural differences; negotiations by children of social, political, economic conditions; children’s relationships with adults, parents, siblings, or peers as represented in film; gender and children; sexuality and children; children of the Diaspora as portrayed in film; children and technology; the child body; ideology and the child; children’s education, and any other topic that explores the child image in film.

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Race, Crime, and Children

CFP: Race, Crime, and Children. Special Winter Issue: Red Feather Journal

In the wake of the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin, the young African American teenager killed as he was walking home in suburban Florida, the intersections of youth, crime and race have been brought to the forefront of public discourse and media scrutiny. In this discourse, American youth, and particularly young people of color, are frequently romanticized, demonized and/or criminalized. Red Feather Journal seeks to provide a forum for dialogue among scholars about the intersections of race, crime, children, and the media. How do cultural junctures like Trayvon Martin’s murder and racial profiling bring to the fore popular notions about childhood itself? What part does race play in constructions of, and cultural discourse about, childhood in a global context? Red Feather Journal invites the submission of scholarly articles from a variety of disciplines that explore these issues.

International submissions are encouraged.

Red Feather Journal adheres to the MLA citation system. Authors are welcome to submit articles in other citations systems, with the understanding that, upon acceptance, conversion to MLA is a condition of publication. Red Feather Journal is indexed through EBSCO host and MLA bibliography.

Interested contributors please submit the paper, an abstract, and a brief biography (with full contact information) as attachments in Word to

Deadline for submissions for the Special Winter issue is November 30, 2013.

Interview with Colin Heywood (Univ. of Nottingham)

Colin Heywood on the recent SHCY conference at the University of Nottingham – June, 2013

Professor Colin Heywood of the University of Nottingham is the author of four books, two of which are particularly important for the history of childhood: A History of Childhood: Children and Childhood in the West from Medieval to Modern Times (Polity, 2001); Growing up in France: from the Ancien Régime to the Third Republic (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007). He served SHCY as host for the 2013 conference in June. On July 22, Patrick Ryan of Kings University College in London, Ontario recorded this interviewed with Professor Heywood about his reflections upon the conference, and for his thoughts about the state of historical research about childhood.

Prof. Heywood Podcast

Guest Post: John E. Murray on Mary Grainger and the Charleston Orphan House

SHCY member John E. Murray, J. R. Hyde III Professor of Political Economy, shares this biographical sketch of Mary Grainger, one of the rich stories from the Orphan House records that informed his latest book, The Charleston Orphan House.

The Charleston Orphan House was the first public orphanage in America, founded by ordinance of the city council in October 1790. Several thousand children passed through its doors and the organization continues as a child welfare agency to the present. Throughout childhood, a variety of documents by and about particular children accumulated—some written by parents or guardians, some by masters, and some by Orphan House officials—and are now safely held in the Charleston County Public Library.

These records yield hundreds of biographical sketches of rather ordinary children. As a potential source of historical evidence about young members of the working class, roughly between the Revolution and the Civil War, I believe this collection is unsurpassed. It is possible that other child welfare archives hold similar riches, at least for the Early Republic period. As an example from the Orphan House records, I describe a bit of the young life of one girl, Mary Grainger, whose story does not appear in my recent book, The Charleston Orphan House (University of Chicago Press, 2013).

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Breaking the Chains: The Underground Railroad in Children’s Literature

CFP: Breaking the Chains: The Underground Railroad in Children’s Literature
NeMLA Convention, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 3-6 April 2014.

Proposals that examine the depiction and significance of the Underground Railroad in Canadian Children’s literature are welcome. Possible works include Underground Canada by Barbara Smucker (published in the US as Runaway to Freedom), Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Curtis, and A Desperate Road to Freedom: The Underground Railroad Diary of Julia May Jackson by Karleen Bradford, among many others. Papers that examine this theme in American children’s literature are also invited.

Please address queries and/or  proposals (250-500 words) and  brief bio to Lesley Clement: Deadline: 30 September 2013.

Children and Globalization: Issues, Policies and Initiatives

Call for Papers:
The 10th Joint Area Centers Symposium: Children and Globalization: Issues, Policies and Initiatives
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
April 10-12, 2014

Keynote Speaker: David Oswell, Department of Sociology, University of London
“After Our Children’s Image: Human Rights, Capital and the Common”

Papers are solicited for the following panels:

* Cross-cultural and historical perspectives on childhood and children
* Children and migration
* Child labor
* International adoption
* Homeless/street children
* Children and sexuality: child marriages, sexual abuse, sex slavery
* Children and war: victims, refugees, child soldiers; children and peacebuilding/conflict resolution
* Children’s rights

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CFP: Journal of Childhood and Religion

The Journal of Childhood and Religion, a peer-reviewed on-line publication of Sopher Press, provides an interdisciplinary forum for scholars representing a wide range of research fields, interests, and perspectives that relate to children and religion. Such fields may include but are not limited to religious studies, biblical studies, the range of human sciences, pastoral psychology, practical theology, pastoral theology, religious education, psychology of religion, sociology of religion, counseling psychology, social work, and cultural studies.

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Jobs: Assistant and Associate Professor of Childhood Studies

The Department of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University—Camden, New Jersey, USA invites applications for two positions:  Assistant Professor (tenure-track) and Associate Professor (tenured) of Childhood Studies to commence on 1st September 2014.

Building on the strengths of its established, internationally recognized program, the Department seeks outstanding scholars whose research interests and projects address the lives or contexts of children and childhood from an interdisciplinary perspective.  All areas in the social sciences and humanities are welcome, including interdisciplinary fields such as performance studies, gender studies and disability studies. The disciplinary affiliation of an applicant is of less importance than the quality of his/her research and the demonstrated appreciation for multidisciplinary approaches to the study of children and childhood.  We are particularly interested in receiving applications from those whose work addresses the following areas, broadly conceived, and can speak to both national and transnational contexts: children’s sexualities, literacies, media, health behavior, geographies and disabilities.  We seek applicants with experience supervising doctoral students and interest in contributing to leadership roles within the department.

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Adoption: Crossing Boundaries

The Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture announces: The 5th International Conference on Adoption and Culture

Adoption: Crossing Boundaries

March 27 – 30, 2014
Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

Call for Proposals: Due August 1/Single Paper Submissions Welcome

ASAC’s biennial conferences feature stories and histories of adoption as explored by writers, artists, and scholars across the disciplines, especially the humanities. Adoptions and the lives of adoptees always involve crossing boundaries, whether the boundaries of families, the boundaries of races, the boundaries of nations, the boundaries of aboriginal peoples and others, the boundaries of communities, the boundaries of law, or all of these borders. This conference takes up these themes and threads, and also encourages other kinds of boundary-crossing: boundaries between disciplines; between adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, and social workers; boundaries between creative writers, scholars, and activists. And we extend our topic across other boundaries by considering similar issues with regard to foster care and assisted reproduction.

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Podcast: Writing the History of Childhood and Youth in Canada

Here is the audio recording of the HCYG roundtable at the University of Victoria in June 2013: Unraveling Common and Uncommon Threads: Writing the History of Childhood and Youth in Canada / Dénouer les dénominateurs communs et moins communs: Écrire l’histoire de l’enfance et de la jeunesse au Canada.

Listen Here

1. Cynthia Comacchio, Wilfrid Laurier “Chronology, Biology and History: Why Age Matters.” (0:00-12:19)

2. Mona Gleason, UBC: “Beyond the Fetish of ‘Voice’: Theoretical and Methodological Innovation in the History of Children in Canada.” (12:20-27:02)

3. Dominique Marshall, Carleton: “L’action politique des enfants canadiens: Dimensions transnationales, découvertes et suggestions.” (27:03-43:33).

4. Jonathan Anuik, Alberta: “The Futility of the Hypothetical in Canadian Childhood and Youth: Practical Considerations from Education.” (43:34-1:00)

Children and Slavery, Past and Present

Contributions are invited for a forthcoming volume, Small Bonds: Enslaved Children from 1607-2014, currently slated for inclusion in Cambridge’s new series, Slavery Since Emancipation. The essays in this volume will collectively ask how placing children in the forefront of our thinking can change our understanding of how slavery functions in both the past and the present.

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Translating Happiness: Medicine, Culture, and “Social Progress”

CFP: Translating Happiness: Medicine, Culture and “Social Progress”

This year the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) proclaimed March 20th the International Day of Happiness. This day is premised on international recognition of the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental human goal, and a means of promoting sustainable development. International acknowledgement of the important role that happiness plays in development is also displayed in the 2012 World Happiness Report, as well as a host of recent changes to national social policies, community infrastructures and health services.

This special issue of Health, Culture and Society (HCS) explores the multiple and contested ways of knowing happiness. We are particularly interested in research that analyzes the translations of happiness. According to Nikolas Rose, translation provides for the possibility of government: “In the dynamics of translation, alignments are forged between the objectives of those wishing to govern and the personal projects of those organizations, groups, and individuals who are the subjects of government” (1999, p. 48).

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Guest Post: Mona Gleason and the Limits of “Children’s Voices”

Observations on the Limits of “Children’s Voices”
Mona Gleason, Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia

Small Matters cover

Perhaps the one concern that binds historians of children and youth together, regardless of national context, time frame, or thematic interest, is the search for “children’s voices” in the past. Recovering and highlighting the perspectives of young people in our histories distinguishes our field from others. Many papers at SHCY conferences, published journal articles, and books in the field are devoted to finding and underscoring the child’s voice, often used as a short hand for a commitment to uncovering their “agency.” Having just completed a book entitled Small Matters: Canadian Children in Sickness and Health, 1900 to 1940, I’ve struggled quite intimately with what it means to include and highlight the “child’s voice.” After all, the perspectives of young people on this complex and multilayered history, I argue in the book, is the very thing missing in much of the Canadian historiography on health and medicine, generally, and health and childhood, in particular. My book relies heavily on the oral histories of a wide range of adults who grew up in Canada over the early to mid-twentieth century. It was critical to me that the oral histories about health experiences formed the backbone of the book. This would, I believed, literally “give voice,” however imperfect and mediated, to young people thereby establishing their agency as historical actors. It was not that simple. My attempts to “write children into” this history by including their “voices” in my analysis, brought to the surface a number of theoretical and methodological caveats that are particularly applicable to the Canadian historiography, but that also have relevance writ large. I briefly outline only two of these caveats below – there are others, but I’ll limit myself to these for this brief post.

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2013 SHCY General Election Results

Here are the results from the recent General Election:

Vice President/President Elect:

Mona Gleason
University of British Columbia

At Large Executive Committee Members:

Tamara Myers
University of British Columbia

Dirk Schumann
University of Göttingen, Germany

Johanna Sköld
Linköping University, Sweden

Graduate Student Representative:

Susan Eckelmann
Indiana University

Thank you to everyone who voted and congratulations to the incoming SHCY officers!

SHCY 2013: Graduate Student Digest

Susan Eckelmann, the Graduate Student Representative for SHCY, provides this recap of the executive meeting and ideas for expanding opportunities for graduate students below.

The job market, writing a dissertation, and funding dissertation research can be challenging and produce frustrating moments at times. But to most of us, this is hardly any news. As SHCY’s graduate student representative, I’m committed to developing professional workshops, creating more funding opportunities, promoting more awards for graduate students, and expanding pedagogical resources on SCHY’s website, among other important developments necessary to succeed as a budding scholar.

During this year’s executive meeting, I have raised and pushed for a number of important changes that I hope will further professional development, increase the visibility of grad students’ intellectual contributions, and cultivate institutional and funding support for dissertation research and conference participation.

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2013 Best Article Award: Ishita Pande

The Best Article Award Committee for the Society for the History of Children and Youth for 2013 was composed of three members: Barbara Beatty (Wellesley College); Julia Grant (James Madison College at Michigan State University); and Marie Nelson Clark (Linkoping University).

The committee chose Ishita Pande’s “Coming of Age: Law, sex, and Childhood in Late Colonial India,” Gender & History vol. 24, no. 1 (April 2012) to receive the 2013 Best Article award.

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2013 Grace Abbott Best Book Award Winner: Robin Bernstein

The Grace Abbott Best Book Award Committee of the Society for the History of Children and Youth for 2013 was composed of four members: Daniel Cook (Rutgers University, Camden), Stephen Lassonde (Harvard University) Leslie Paris (University of British Columbia), Johanna Sköld (Linköping University).

The committee chose Robin Bernstein’s book Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights (New York University Press, 2011) as the Grace Abbott Best Book Award winner.

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SHCY 2013 recap: Interior/Exterior Spaces for Play

Annmarie Valdes, 3rd year PhD Student at Loyola University recaps Session 20 on Day 2 of the conference. This session dealt with interior and exterior spaces for play and recreation, 1600-1950.

I would like to begin this post on a short personal note: My initial attraction to this panel occurred in part because I spent the first decade of motherhood in, near or cleaning up after countless trips to the sandbox (along with the toys that they wanted to bring to the sandbox). On lazier days I allowed a space in the backyard for a “mud hole”. Even now I consider time spent in that particular “space,” the sandbox, invaluable—both for me and my children. The construction and destruction of worlds built with sand and mud—for me form part of the definition of play. During this time my thought about the sandbox and the mud hole was simple: children need a proper place (or space) to play. Simple? Maybe? And alongside this a couple of reminders 1) that historians need to be careful about interpreting play, as it is such a subjective activity and that what play is or means to and for children and adults if often different—adult research from an adult point of view and 2) when one has a personal interest and experience in a topic, how does one go about maintaining objectivity and 3) how can historians resolve the need for accounts from a child’s point of view?

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Job: Commissioning Editor & Book Reviews Editor for Children’s Geographies Journal

Commissioning Editor for North America & Book Reviews Editor sought for Children’s Geographies journal

Children’s Geographies is a peer-reviewed journal that provides an international forum to discuss issues that impact upon the geographical worlds of children and young people (25 years and under) and their families. The journal aims to be accessible to established academics and practitioners with an interest in children, youth and families, as well as to new researchers, including postgraduate students and early career academics. Children’s Geographies emphasizes the importance of place, space and spatiality and welcomes inter- and intra-disciplinary work. The journal provides a forum for multi-faceted geographies, enabling new insights into the diverse and multiple realities of young people’s lives.

Established in 2003 Children’s Geographies has a Thomson-Reuters ISI ranking factor of 1.158 (2011). Children’s Geographies is published by Routledge Journals, an imprint of Taylor & Francis an Informa business. For more information about the journal see

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