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Ebook Information

Child Care in Black and White

Working Parents and the History of Orphanages
Awards and Recognition:

Winner of the Herbert G. Gutman Prize from the Labor and Working-Class History Association, the Lerner-Scott Prize in Women's History from the Organization of American Historians, and the John Heinz Award from the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Reconceptualizing the orphanage as day care

This innovative study examines the development of institutional child care from 1878 to 1929, based on a comparison of two "sister" orphanages in Pittsburgh: the all-white United Presbyterian Orphan's Home and the all-black Home for Colored Children. Focusing on the agency of poor families who used these institutions in times of family crisis to meet their child care needs, Jessie B. Ramey explores the cooperation and conflict among working parents, children, orphanage managers, progressive reformers, staff members, and the broader community.

Drawing on quantitative analysis of the records of more than 1,500 children living at the two orphanages, as well as census data, city logs, and contemporary social science surveys, this study investigates the intertwined hierarchies of gender, race, and class at the foundation of orphanage care. Raising new questions about the role of child care in constructing and perpetrating social inequality in the United States, Child Care in Black and White: Working Parents and the History of Orphanages provides insight into the lives of working-class families struggling to balance their wage labor and parenting responsibilities in a modernizing industrial economy.

"An important book that will appeal to all scholars interested in the histories of child welfare, the working class, or social welfare. Highly recommended."--Choice

"Ramey's research contributes to greater understanding of working-class families in the early twentieth century and the flexibility and adaptability of child care institutions in response to the communities they serve."--Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

"Jessie B. Ramey demonstrates why she is both a first-rate historian and writer."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"A penetrating comparative investigation of the intertwined roles of class, race, and gender in child saving. . . . [Ramey] reveals how such racial and gendered ideas were first incorporated into practice and policy within these segregated realms, and why it still matters."--American Historical Review

"This book is an important contribution to the history of child welfare policy. Jessie B. Ramey's research illustrates the role racial segregation played in a northern industrialized city in child welfare policies for dependent children whose parents turned to orphanages for help."--Kriste Lindenmeyer, author of The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s

Jessie B. Ramey is an ACLS New Faculty Fellow in Women's Studies and History at the University of Pittsburgh.

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