Child Protection in America: Past, Present, and Future

By John E. B. Myers | Go to book overview

3
CHILD PROTECTION FROM
1900 TO 1962

Child protection in the twentieth century can be divided into two periods, one before 1962, and one following. This chapter chronicles developments prior to 1962, while the next chapter describes the post-1962 era. The principal topics discussed in the present chapter are the juvenile court, protection of teenage girls, the gradual transition from nongovernmental child protection societies to government child protection, race in American child welfare, the decline of the orphanage, the rise of foster family care, and the relative obscurity of child protection from roughly 1929 to 1962.


Progressive Era

Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century child protection overlapped the Progressive Era, a period of agitation on numerous social fronts, including efforts to help children, women, the poor, and working class people. Historians differ on when the Progressive Era began. Some say 1890, others 1901. As for the end of the Progressive Era, many scholars point to 1917, the year America entered World War I.

The Progressive Era was a response to several factors, including dramatically increased population. In 1860, the population was 33 million. By 1900, the population soared to nearly 76 million. In the late nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution was at full steam, creating wealth for industrialists but low wages, unsafe working conditions, and long hours for workers, including children. The Progressive Era was a reaction against exploitive industrial labor, urban poverty, and other social injustices.

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