Children and Youth in a New Nation

320 pages

10 illustrations

January, 2009

ISBN: 9780814757499

$27

Paper

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Author

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 The Children’s Civil War and four NYU Press books: Children and War: A Historical Anthology; Children in Colonial America; Children and Youth in a New Nation; and Children and Youth during the Civil War Era.

All books by James Marten

In the early years of the Republic, as Americans tried to determine what it meant to be an American, they also wondered what it meant to be an American child. A defensive, even fearful, approach to childhood gave way to a more optimistic campaign to integrate young Americans into the Republican experiment.

In Children and Youth in a New Nation, historians unearth the experiences of and attitudes about children and youth during the decades following the American Revolution. Beginning with the revolution itself, the contributors explore a broad range of topics, from the ways in which American children and youth participated in and learned from the revolt and its aftermaths, to developing notions of “ideal” childhoods as they were imagined by new religious denominations and competing ethnic groups, to the struggle by educators over how the society that came out of the Revolution could best be served by its educational systems. The volume concludes by foreshadowing future “child-saving” efforts by reformers committed to constructing adequate systems of public health and child welfare institutions.

Rooted in the historical literature and primary sources, Children and Youth in a New Nation is a key resource in our understanding of origins of modern ideas about children and youth and the conflation of national purpose and ideas related to child development.

Reviews

  • "The collection of essays edited by Marten, Children and Youth in a New Nation, forgrounds the dual role that children play within society - as individuals and as representatives of adult ideals and aspirations."

    —Mary Niall Mitchell, William and Mary Quarterly

  • Children and Youth in a New Nation is a rich and welcomed introduction to the many faces of childhood in America from the Revolution to the eve of the Civil War. The history of childhood is often treated as a marginal topic, disconnected from major historical themes. This volume seeks to correct that misperception by demonstrating that the growth of the republic and the emergence of new ideas about childhood and the shifting experience of actual children were inextricably linked.”

    —Steven Mintz, Columbia University, and author of Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood