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Raising Citizens in the 'Century of the Child': The United States and German Central Europe in Comparative Perspective

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Volume 12

Studies in German History

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Raising Citizens in the 'Century of the Child'

The United States and German Central Europe in Comparative Perspective

Edited by Dirk Schumann
Published in Association with the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C.

280 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-696-2 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (September 2010)

ISBN  978-1-78238-109-9 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (December 2013)

eISBN 978-1-84545-999-4 eBook

Hb Pb   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This is an interesting and ambitious book that seeks to present a comparative perspective on raising children in Germany and in the United States in the twentieth century… [It] brings together a wide and interesting variety of topics on both America and Germany… [and] will be of great use to students and scholars in the fields of both American and European twentieth-century childhood studies and history.  ·  German Studies Review

This is an inspiring book for any social scientist analyzing childhood…the range of topics that are presented in this way allows insight into many constellations of ‘raising citizens,’ so that we can consider the linkage of child-rearing and education to the development of political systems in many variations. The various chapters taken together convey evidence for the main idea of the book: twentieth-century childhood is a political, and especially, national affair.  ·  H-Childhood

“The strength of this impressive collection is that it brings the family and childhood back in and emphasizes the significance of these subjects for understanding debates over citizenship, the relationship of the public to the private, religion, science, and secularization in the twentieth century. The comparative focus on Germany and the United States works well, and several of the articles are in (at least indirect) conversation with each other in ways that illuminate the comparison.”  ·  Robert G. Moeller, University of California, Irvine


The 20th century, declared at its start to be the “Century of the Child” by Swedish author Ellen Key, saw an unprecedented expansion of state activity in and expert knowledge on child-rearing on both sides of the Atlantic. Children were seen as a crucial national resource whose care could not be left to families alone. However, the exact scope and degree of state intervention and expert influence as well as the rights and roles of mothers and fathers remained subjects of heated debates throughout the century. While there is a growing scholarly interest in the history of childhood, research in the field remains focused on national narratives. This volume compares the impact of state intervention and expert influence on theories and practices of raising children in the U.S. and German Central Europe. In particular, the contributors focus on institutions such as kindergartens and schools where the private and the public spheres intersected, on notions of “race” and “ethnicity,” “normality” and “deviance,” and on the impact of wars and changes in political regimes.

Dirk Schumann is a Professor of Modern History at Georg-August-University Göttingen. He was Deputy Director of the German Historical Institute Washington, D.C., from 2002 to 2007 and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Bielefeld. From 1999 to 2002 he taught as Visiting Professor at Emory University. He is the author of Political Violence in the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933: Fight for the Streets and Fear of Civil War (English edition, Berghahn Books, 2009) and has co-edited Life After Death (Cambridge University Press, 2003), Violence and Society after the First World War (fi rst issue of Journal of Modern European History, 2003), and Between Mass Death and Individual Loss: Th e Place of the Dead in Twentieth-Century Germany (Berghahn Books, 2008).

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present Educational Studies
Area: Germany North America


Introduction: Child-Rearing and Citizenship in the Twentieth Century


Chapter 1. Children and the National Interest
Sonya Michel (with Eszter Varsa)


Chapter 2. Children’s Future, Nation’s Future: Race, Citizenship, and the U.S. Children’s Bureau
Katherine Bullard

Chapter 3. From Reform Pedagogy to War Pedagogy: Education Reform before 1914 and the Mobilization for War in Germany
Andrew Donson

Chapter 4. ‘Linked with the welfare of all peoples’: The American Kindergarten, Americanization, and Internationalism in World War I
Ellen Berg


Chapter 5. How Should We Raise Our Son Benjamin? Advice Literature for Mothers in Early Twentieth-Century Germany
Carolyn Kay

Chapter 6. Debunking Mother Love: American Mothers and the Momism Critique in the Mid-Twentieth Century
Rebecca Jo Plant

Chapter 7. Paternity, Rechristianization, and the Quest for Democracy in Postwar West Germany
Till van Rahden


Chapter 8. Who Owns Children? Parents, Children, and the State in the United States South
Charles A. Israel

Chapter 9. ‘Children Betray their Father and Mother’: Collective Education, Nationalism, and Democracy in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948
Tara Zahra

Chapter 10. Asserting Their ‘Natural Right’: Parents and Public Schooling in Post-1945 Germany
Dirk Schumann

Chapter 11. ‘Special Relationships’: The State, Social Workers, and Abused Children in the United States, 1950-1990
Lynne Curry

Notes on Contributors


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