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Child Welfare and Social Action from the Nineteenth Century to the Present

Jon Lawrence
Pat Starkey
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: 1
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Child Welfare and Social Action from the Nineteenth Century to the Present
    Book Description:

    This collection of twelve essays represents an important contribution to the understanding of child welfare and social action in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They challenge many assumptions about the history of childhood and child welfare policy and cover a variety of themes including the physical and sexual abuse of children, forced child migration and role of the welfare state.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-281-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Child Welfare and Social Action
    (pp. 1-12)
    Jon Lawrence and Pat Starkey

    The essays published in this volume have been selected from over fifty papers presented at an international conference on Child Welfare and Social Action held at the University of Liverpool in July 1998. Organised by members of the departments of History, Special Collections and Archives, and Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work Studies, the conference marked the deposit of the records of NCH Action for Children (formerly the National Children’s Homes) in the Special Collections and Archives Department of the University. There they joined an important voluntary social work collection, including the records of Barnardo’s, the Fairbridge Trust, Family Service...

  5. I Gender and ‘Delinquency’
    • 1 Deserting Daughters: Runaways and the Red-Light District of Montreal before 1945
      (pp. 15-35)
      Tamara Myers

      In the middle of an April night in 1924, Germaine C. slipped out of her family home through an open window. Across Montreal she travelled to meet her boyfriend at 188 Boulevard St Laurent where they rented a room as ‘husband and wife’.¹ Not two months earlier, Alice M. also deserted her home, to escape the physical abuse of her father. While on the run she and a girlfriend similarly rented a room at 188 Boulevard St Laurent.² Both girls were caught, hauled into the Juvenile Delinquents’ Court (Cour des jeunes délinquants) and punished.

      This chapter is about girls who...

    • 2 ‘Just Trying to be Men’? Violence, Girls and their Social Worlds
      (pp. 36-50)
      J. A. Brown, M. Burman and K. Tisdall

      In Britain, in recent years, violent and aggressive behaviour by teenage girls has received considerable media attention. In 1996, the attack on actress Elizabeth Hurley by four girls in the West End of London received extensive coverage.¹ Other reports followed, highlighting girl gangs, bullying and the torturing of victims by girls.² Indeed, some writers maintain that violence by girls constitutes a new ‘moral panic’.³ Media reportage invariably links this ‘new phenomenon’ with more established concerns about the rise in youth crime, increased social disorder and a decline in social and moral values. What is of particular interest, however, is the...

  6. II Child Emigration
    • 3 Fairbridge Child Migrants
      (pp. 53-81)
      Geoffrey Sherington

      In recent years, the media and governments have focused on the history of British child migration. The children sent to the former British Dominions have been seen asThe Lost Children of Empireseparated from family and home and exiled across the oceans to hardship.¹ There has been a specific concern with the child migrants sent to Australia and especially the child migrants of the period immediately after the Second World War. These children have been portrayed as victims not only in the press but in such dramatic fiction as the joint BBC–ABC four-hour mini-seriesThe Leaving of Liverpool,...

    • 4 Gender, Generations and Social Class: The Fairbridge Society and British Child Migration to Canada, 1930–1960
      (pp. 82-100)
      Patrick A. Dunae

      From the mid-1930s to the early 1950s, the Fairbridge Society operated a unique residential training centre for underprivileged British children in Canada. The Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School was located on Vancouver Island, in Canada’s most westerly province, British Columbia. The Fairbridge Farm School was a remarkable community and is significant to the history of child welfare and social action in several respects.

      The very fact of its existence is remarkable, because the Fairbridge enterprise was established several years after British child migration to Canada had officially ended. From the 1860s onwards nearly 100,000 dependent children were sent to...

    • 5 Child Rescue: The Emigration of an Idea
      (pp. 101-120)
      Shurlee Swain

      Why did this happen to me? This sense of personal hurt lies at the base of a series of campaigns launched by adult survivors of child welfare systems of the past. While these are essentially political campaigns alleging a transgression of citizen rights, they have their origins in the search for an explanation for past pain and the need to integrate personal experiences of cruelty and loss into public representations of child welfare providers as essentially benevolent and kind. Once launched such campaigns can produce a second level of hurt as the now elderly carers are forced to re-examine their...

    • 6 Changing Childhoods: Child Emigration since 1945
      (pp. 121-144)
      Kathleen Paul

      In 1967, a small party of children accompanied by an escort departed Southampton docks. Their destination was Australia, although in the past they could just as easily have been travelling to Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, or Southern Rhodesia. Although the children could not understand the importance of this moment, their departure constituted the last gasp of a vast historical process, a process in which children had played a leading role. For over three hundred years, both British and Dominion governments and voluntary societies had assigned child emigrants – children sent abroad without family members to be boarded out or placed...

  7. III Rethinking Philanthropy
    • 7 From Barrack Schools to Family Cottages: Creating Domestic Space for Late Victorian Poor Children
      (pp. 147-173)
      Lydia D. Murdoch

      ‘The family system is the foundation of everything that is valued in our institutions. Our whole structure of society rests on it. Any attempt to rear children artificially on a wholesale principle, is necessarily defective, will prove abortive, and be attended, one way or another, with bad effects.’² So declared the journalist William Chambers (1800–1883) in his opening article for the 9 June 1877 issue ofChambers’s Journal. His comments heralded a great change in public opinion about how government and philanthropic organisations should treat the children in their care. Chambers condemned the grouping of orphaned, deserted and pauper...

    • 8 The Campaign for School Meals in Edwardian Scotland
      (pp. 174-194)
      John Stewart

      In February 1888 the renowned Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow, James Russell, gave a speech entitledLife in One Room, or Some Serious Considerations for the Citizens of Glasgow. Russell described in detail the nature and consequences of overcrowding in Glasgow tenements – housing conditions in urban-industrial Scotland were widely acknowledged to be the worst in Britain – and urged his middle-class audience urgently to address these issues. Not to do so, he argued, would be not only a failure of Christian charity, but would also result in the physical degeneration of the population and the advance of socialist ideas. Russell...

    • 9 ‘Blood is Thicker than Water’: Family, Fantasy and Identity in the Lives of Scottish Foster Children
      (pp. 195-216)
      Lynn Abrams

      In his recent and illuminating study of the family, John Gillis has argued that ‘we must recognise that families are worlds of our own making’.¹ Today, the family we live by in western society is a mythical, idealised creation vested with profound symbolic importance. The family is assigned to do the emotional work once carried out by other institutions and thus it has become a totem of our identity. This process has proceeded apace since the early nineteenth century and perhaps nowhere is the construction of the family as a fulcrum of identity, emotion and belonging more stark than in...

  8. IV ‘Welfare States’ and Child Welfare
    • 10 ‘Fixing’ Mothers: Child Welfare and Compulsory Sterilisation in the American Midwest, 1925–1945
      (pp. 219-233)
      Molly Ladd-Taylor

      For most of the twentieth century, child welfare policy in the United States focused on fixing parents, especially mothers. For the most part, this meant providing education and training, instead of resources, to impoverished parents. To combat infant and maternal mortality, for example, the 1921 Sheppard-Towner Act provided education in hygiene and nutrition, but no medical care or financial assistance. The 1935 Social Security Act, which guaranteed financial assistance to needy families through Aid to Dependent Children, permitted states to supervise housekeeping practices and to limit welfare payments to mothers who had a ‘suitable home’.¹ Even in the 1960s, in...

    • 11 A Spirit of ‘Friendly Rivalry’? Voluntary Societies and the Formation of Post-War Child Welfare Legislation in Britain
      (pp. 234-255)
      Julie Grier

      In recent years, historians have paid increasing attention to the role of voluntarism in welfare policy.¹ Attempts have been made to describe the relationship between the state and the voluntary sector and most of these descriptions are based on the concept of a ‘boundary’ between two separate spheres. This chapter argues that such a model is misleading and that the relationship between the state and voluntary sector has been (and is) far more fluid and dynamic than the concept of a ‘boundary’ would suggest. To illustrate the complexity of this relationship the role of two of Britain’s largest voluntary children’s...

    • 12 Mental Incapacity, Ill-Health and Poverty: Family Failure in Post-War Britain
      (pp. 256-276)
      Pat Starkey

      The problems posed for local authorities by numbers of poor families were brought to public attention by the account of their wartime activities published by members of Pacifist Service Units (PSU) based in Liverpool, Manchester and Stepney during the Second World War.¹ The efforts of PSU were rewarded by support from public figures and its establishment as a permanent peacetime voluntary social work agency, renamed Family Service Units (FSU). Its work attracted the attention of mental health agencies and Medical Officers of Health, partly as a consequence of the creation of a tripartite structure for the new National Health Service...

  9. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 277-279)
  10. Index
    (pp. 280-294)