More than nine generations of children grew up in America between the founding of the first English colonies and the end of the Civil War. This book, the first of three volumes that will provide the most complete documentary history of public provision for American children, traces the changing attitudes of the nation toward youth during the first two and one half centuries of its history.
The editors have divided volume I into three units of time--1600-1735, 1735-1820, 1820-1865 each of which represents a stage in the development of public policies toward children. The question raised in the first section is: What is the function of government or the public authority when the child is a subject, not a citizen, of a private family government? The second part deals with the question: How does the public sector respond when children, although still officially subject to familial authority, practice the doctrines of self-help, independence, and self-interest? The third part asks: How did the state and the adult public regard children in a society marked by political and social change, population mobility, and rapid economic growth? What was expected of children? What was done for them? What was denied them?
The editors have chosen documents chronicling all aspects of the welfare of children, including education, child health, care of dependent children, child labor, juvenile delinquency and the special problems of children of minority and disadvantaged groups. They have skillfully linked the papers together with interpretive introductions and have woven them into a fascinating and enlightening narrative. The documents have been selected from both published and unpublishedmaterials, private diaries and correspondence, as well as the records of governmental and voluntary agencies on the local, state, and national levels. In addition to the time divisions, the documents are arranged geographically and topically, though the rigid maintenance of topical distinctions has been avoided so that related topics may be presented from different viewpoints and organized in the most meaningful and useful way.
Volume II will cover the events occurring between 1866 and 1932, and Volume III will deal with policies adopted and developed since 1933. Each volume will include selected contemporary illustrations.