This book presents a committed quest to unravel and document the postwar adoption networks that placed more than 3,000 Greek children in the United States, in a movement accelerated by the aftermath of the Greek Civil War and by the new conditions of the global Cold War. Greek-to-American adoptions and, regrettably, also their transactions and transgressions, provided the blueprint for the first large-scale international adoptions, well before these became a mass phenomenon typically associated with Asian children. The story of these Greek postwar and Cold War adoptions, whose procedures ranged from legal to highly irregular, has never been told or analyzed before. Adoption, Memory, and Cold War Greece answers the important questions: How did these adoptions from Greece happen? Was there any money involved? Humanitarian rescue or kid pro quo? Or both? With sympathy and perseverance, Gonda Van Steen has filled a decades-long gap in our understanding, and provided essential information to the hundreds of adoptees and their descendants whose lives are still affected today.
Alongside the architectural splendor and intellectual brilliance of early Renaissance Florence there existed a second world of poverty, misery, social despair, and child abandonment. The Ospedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents), designed and built between 1419 and 1445 by the renowned architect Filippo Brunelleschi, united these disparate worlds. Christian charity and compassion, as well as the humanist commitment to social perfection, family values, and love for children, were intertwined with a civic pride in which charity curried God's favor and invoked God's blessings on the city's fortunes.
Based on a close and attentive reading of archival material from the hospital and from the Florentine State Archives, Charity and Children in Renaissance Florence both chronicles the concerns and ambivalence of parents who abandoned children and follows the lives of the hospital's inhabitants from childhood to death. The book also demonstrates how hospital officials deliberately duplicated the structure and values of the Florentine family within the hospital walls. Gavitt's research shows that early modern foundling hospitals were not charnel houses where parents knowingly and impersonally abandoned their unwanted children to certain death. Charity and Children in Renaissance Florence provokes reflection on the contrast between our own views on the care of homeless children and those of the Italian Renaissance.
Winner of the Society for Italian Historical Studies 1988 Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript.
This historical and inspiring coming-of-age novel for young readers explores topics of both historical and contemporary relevance as it follows a harrowing year in the life of its intrepid teenaged narrator.
Lexington, Kentucky, 1833: Calendula “Cal” Farmer, a thirteen-year-old white girl, has been raised by her abolitionist, freethinking mother to reason for herself, consult her inner wisdom, and come to her own conclusions. But when a flash flood devastates her family’s home, Cal is unexpectedly thrust into domestic service in a wealthy family’s mansion. There, she encounters firsthand the physical, intellectual, and emotional brutalities of slavery. Later, a cholera outbreak kills a quarter of the population, including Cal’s mother, and Cal enters an orphanage, where she bravely begins another chapter in her young life.
Cal’s story is sure to captivate readers as she confronts the injustices and uncertainties of racism, class consciousness, epidemic disease, and personal loss with independent thinking, perseverance, and love.
In 1904, New York nuns brought forty Irish orphans to a remote Arizona mining camp, to be placed with Catholic families. The Catholic families were Mexican, as was the majority of the population. Soon the town's Anglos, furious at this "interracial" transgression, formed a vigilante squad that kidnapped the children and nearly lynched the nuns and the local priest. The Catholic Church sued to get its wards back, but all the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled in favor of the vigilantes.The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction tells this disturbing and dramatic tale to illuminate the creation of racial boundaries along the Mexican border. Clifton/Morenci, Arizona, was a "wild West" boomtown, where the mines and smelters pulled in thousands of Mexican immigrant workers. Racial walls hardened as the mines became big business and whiteness became a marker of superiority. These already volatile race and class relations produced passions that erupted in the "orphan incident." To the Anglos of Clifton/Morenci, placing a white child with a Mexican family was tantamount to child abuse, and they saw their kidnapping as a rescue.Women initiated both sides of this confrontation. Mexican women agreed to take in these orphans, both serving their church and asserting a maternal prerogative; Anglo women believed they had to "save" the orphans, and they organized a vigilante squad to do it. In retelling this nearly forgotten piece of American history, Linda Gordon brilliantly recreates and dissects the tangled intersection of family and racial values, in a gripping story that resonates with today's conflicts over the "best interests of the child."
Through poems of witness, species and habitat extinction, war, pandemic, technology, history, and race, Mark Irwin’s elegant collection of poetry explores the collision between metropolis and wilderness, and engages with forms of spirit that cannot be bound. With the incursion of electronic communication, our connections with one another have been radically distorted. Irwin’s poems confront what it means to be human, and how conflict, along with the interface between technology and humanity, can cause us to become orphaned in many different ways. But it is our decision to be joyful.
Excerpt from “Letter”
Times when we touch hope like the hem of a cloud
just as when we touch a body or door, or think
of the dead come back, romancing
us through the warp of memory, lighting a way
by luring . . .
“Set in Arkansas during World War II, Hout’s touching story of an orphaned boy's relationship with the inhabitant of a small town's "haunted house” will keep you guessing, right up to the satisfying ending. Another endearing novel from Judson Hout."
--Cindy Ward, Dallas, Texas
"We were as American as can be," states Jadin Wong in recalling the days when she used to dance at a San Francisco nightclub during the 1940s. Wong belonged to an all-Chinese chorus line at a time when all East Asians were called "Orientals." In this context, then, what did it mean for Wong, an American-born Chinese, to say that she thought of herself as an "American"? Of Orphans and Warriors explores the social and cultural history of largely urban, American-born Chinese from the 1930s through the 1990s, focusing primarily on those living in California. Chun thus opens a window onto the ways in which these Americans born of Chinese ancestry negotiated their identity over a half century.
Past scholarship has portrayed these individuals as desiring to assimilate into mainstream American culture, but being prevented from doing so by the immigrant parent generation. Taking a new approach, Chun uses memoirs, autobiographies, and fictional writings to unravel complex issues of ethnic identity as both culturally defined and individually negotiated. She concludes that, while indeed many Chinese Americans were caught between the lures of mainstream American culture and their parents' old-world values, this liminal position offered them unprecedented opportunities to carve out new identities for themselves from a position of strength.
As an "orphan train" crossed the country, it left part of its cargo at each stop, a few children in one small town and a few in another. Even though farmers needed many hands for labor, most of the small farm communities could not or would not take all of the children on the train. As the train moved to its next stop, those children not taken feared no one would ever want them.
Early immigration laws encouraged the poor of Europe to find new hope with new lives in the United States. But sometimes the immigrants exchanged a bad situation in their native country for an even worse one on the streets of New York and other industrial cities. As a result, the streets were filled with crowds of abandoned children that the police called "street arabs." Many New York citizens blamed the street arabs for crime and violence in the city and wanted them placed in orphan homes or prisons.
In 1853 a man by the name of Charles Loring Brace, along with other well-to-do men in New York City, founded the Children's Aid Society. The society planned to give food, lodging, and clothing to homeless children and provide educational and trade opportunities for them. But the number of children needing help was so large that the Children's Aid Society was unable to care for them, and Brace developed a plan to send many of the children to the rural Midwest by train. He was convinced that the children of the streets would find many benefits in rural America. In 1854 he persuaded the board of the society to send the first trainload of orphans west. With this, the orphan trains were born.
Cheap fares, the central location of the state, and numerous small farming towns along the railroad tracks made Missouri the perfect hub for the orphan trains, even though many areas of the state were still largely unsettled. Researchers have estimated that from 150,000 to 400,000 children were sent out on orphan trains, with perhaps as many as 100,000 being placed in Missouri.
Orphan Trains to Missouri documents the history of the children on those Orphan Trains--their struggles, their successes, and their failures. Touching stories of volunteers who oversaw the placement of the orphans as well as stories of the orphans themselves make this a rich record of American and midwestern history.
On July 10, 1940, by a 570 to 80 margin, the representatives in the French parliament voted full powers to Philippe Pétain, ending the Third Republic and paving the way for the collaborationist Vichy regime. Olivier Wieviorka offers a nuanced portrait of the individuals who determined the fate of France at this critical moment.Pétain claimed to be saving France from ruin. The day of the vote has been described as a journée des dupes, the legislators so ignorant or fearful that they voted without a thought to the consequences. But Wieviorka shows that most of the deputies made a considered decision to vote for Pétain. He analyzes the factors, such as political culture and regional origins, that motivated the voting on both sides, and traces the men’s fates through the war.Recreating the tense atmosphere of summer 1940, Wieviorka shows how pressures brought on by defeat could affect even the most hardened republicans. He illuminates the complex moral issues inherent in accommodation and collaboration in a time of crisis.
Runner-up, Bronze Medal, Independent Publishers Book Awards: Memoir/Autobiography Category, 2009
Unclear about his future career path, Steve Reifenberg found himself in the early 1980s working at a small orphanage in a poor neighborhood in Santiago, Chile, where a determined single woman was trying to create a stable home for a dozen or so children who had been abandoned or abused. With little more than good intentions and very limited Spanish, the 23-year-old Reifenberg plunged into the life of the Hogar Domingo Savio, becoming a foster father to kids who stretched his capacities for compassion and understanding in ways he never could have imagined back in the United States.
In this beautifully written memoir, Reifenberg recalls his two years at the Hogar Domingo Savio. His vivid descriptions create indelible portraits of a dozen remarkable kids—mature-beyond-her-years Verónica; sullen, unresponsive Marcelo; and irrepressible toddler Andrés, among them. As Reifenberg learns more about the children's circumstances, he begins to see the bigger picture of life in Chile at a crucial moment in its history.
The early 1980s were a time of economic crisis and political uprising against the brutal military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Reifenberg skillfully interweaves the story of the orphanage with the broader national and international forces that dramatically impact the lives of the kids. By the end of Santiago's Children, Reifenberg has told an engrossing story not only of his own coming-of-age, but also of the courage and resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable residents of Latin America.
The baby abandoned on the doorstep is a phenomenon that has virtually disappeared from our experience, but in the early modern world, unwanted children were a very real problem for parents, government officials, and society. The Unwanted Child skillfully recreates sixteenth-century Nuremberg to explore what befell abandoned, neglected, abused, or delinquent children in this critical period.
Joel F. Harrington tackles this question by focusing on the stories of five individuals. In vivid and poignant detail, he recounts the experiences of an unmarried mother-to-be, a roaming mercenary who drifts in and out of his children’s lives, a civic leader handling the government’s response to problems arising from unwanted children, a homeless teenager turned prolific thief, and orphaned twins who enter state care at the age of nine. Braiding together these compelling portraits, Harrington uncovers and analyzes the key elements that link them, including the impact of war and the vital importance of informal networks among women. From the harrowing to the inspiring, The Unwanted Child paints a gripping picture of life on the streets five centuries ago.
The experiences of widows and their children during the Progressive Era and the New Deal depended on differences in local economies and values. How did these widely varied experiences impact the origins of the welfare state?
S. J. Kleinberg delves into the question by comparing widows' lives in three industrial cities with differing economic, ethnic, and racial bases. Government in Fall River, Massachusetts, saw employment as a solution to widows' poverty and as a result drastically limited public charity. In Pittsburgh, widows received sympathetic treatment. Few jobs existed for them or their children; indeed, the jobs for men were concentrated in "widowmaking" industries like steel and railroading. With a large African American population and a diverse economy that relied on inexpensive child and female labor, Baltimore limited funds for public services. African Americans adapted by establishing their own charitable institutions.
A fascinating comparative study, Widows and Orphans First offers a one-of-a-kind look at social welfare policy for widows and the role of children in society during a pivotal time in American history.
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