The lives of children in the twenty-first century are very different to those of children in the past. Today, young people below the age of consent have protection, rights, their own "culture" and an abundance of opportunities; they are allowed to play, and have a point of view. We assume that life was very different for children two hundred years ago, but exactly how was it different? On this course, we will place children in the context of their times, family, and culture, and, amongst others, examine the following topics:
- the "construction" of childhood
- the changing profile of the family, how it was influenced, and by whom
- children's literature, toys, and clothing
- education and play, formal, informal and cultural
- the evolution of child welfare, both legislative and charitable
- children's work, both paid and unpaid
- the "displaced" children of the period: orphans, foundlings, street children, adopted and fostered children, and pauper children
- children in art and the popular media
To build this picture of children's lives, we will use a very wide variety of archival resources - family history records, popular media of the day, art, artefacts, literature, oral history sources, and parliamentary papers, to name a few! We will also look at techniques that can be used to research children's lives, with suggestions offered for finding the elusive children of the past.
This course will be of interest to all those who enjoy social history, and equally will be a valuable course for family historians researching the younger members of their ancestry.
The tutor is a highly experienced social historian and has been teaching family and social history since 1988. Her book, A History of Adoption in England and Wales, 1850-1961, was published in 2014, with five star reviews.