Sunday, March 11, 2007

Book Review: "Children in Colonial America"

Children in Colonial America, edited by Marquette University's James Marten, is a new anthology of some of the most recent historical scholarship on American children and childhood during the colonial period. Marten notes that he tried with this book to bring a cross-regional and cross-racial perspective into the discussion, at which he's succeeded perhaps to the extent possible. By interspersing the historical essays with documents of relevance to each section of the collection, Marten provides some necessary primary source context (not to mention some amusing and thought-provoking selections).

Of particular interest to me were the essays on Indian childhood in traditional and "praying" contexts during the early colonial period in southern New England, the raising of upper-class children in eighteenth-century South Carolina, a very interesting discussion of youth education in Philadelphia, and some thoughts on the role of Boston's youth in the pre-Revolutionary riots against British authority.

A useful, current and largely impressive anthology on an under-studied topic.