Children in the 19th Century

890 words 4 pages
Children in the nineteenth century were usually faced with poverty and lived in the urban slums. Progressive reformers, who were generally people from small towns who later lived in cities, focused primarily on these children and their problems. The goals of the reformers were to change the meaning of childhood and help people understand how children should really be treated.
A child growing up in the nineteenth century was expected to live an adult life by an early age. “In the colonial period in America, once children became toddlers they were considered as miniature adults-in-the-making.” (Twenty-First Annual Report 1901) They would do chores and labor even at the age of six. Some would enter the work force and be exposed to harmful
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After redefining the meaning, childhood eventually included love, help, and nurturing.
Overall, childhood is time period when an infant is born to the point in its life when it can take care of its self. Before the Children’s Bureau, childhood was nonexistent to adults. Rather it was a time period when children gradually took on the chores and responsibilities of adults. It was normal for a mother to feel this way towards her child since there was never an understanding of how a child should be raised. They had a hard time dealing with the problems they faced raising infants because they simply had no experience with how to deal with them. In order to restore the true meaning of childhood the progressive reformers also went to the government. Under the Keating Owen Act restrictions on child labor were enforce d where hours were determined by the age of the child. The progressive reformers changed the meaning of childhood to the time where parents were responsible to raise and nurture children in a way to help them become successful. Parents now loved their children and cared for their health.
Dr. Hall, a progressive, says, “Why is it that the mother loves her baby so? Because she has given her own life blood for it.” (Ladd-Taylor 1986) This quote shows that mothers saw their children in a different way than before. They were not just a burden or seen as


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