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Lecture 4

Worlds of Childhood - Week 4.docx

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HUMA 1970
Krys Verrall

A History of American Childhood – Red, White, and Black in Colonial America By: Steven Mintz • Colonial childhood varied starkly by class, ethnicity, gender, geographic region, religion and race • Dependency and subordination were common features of life for many children in early America o Elizabeth Springs: servant ran away from home to be an indentured servant but later complained to her father in a letter she was being mistreated and begged for forgiveness • David Zeisberger served as a missionary for 62 years o Similarities between the Europeans and the Indian peoples ability to take care of children  Surrounded pregnancy with many taboos to ensure baby’s well-being  Newborns underwent initiation rituals (circumcision) o Differences between the Europeans and the Indian peoples way of taking care of children  Breast-feeding of infants • Indian women always nurse their own children and don’t rely on wetnurses • Indian women also nurse offspring much longer than European women  Indian women bore very few children (3-4) and were very attached to them, even after death • Europeans were expected to show resignation if their child dies • Indian peoples often wept at their graves , even months after their decease  Freedom • Unlike European children, Indian farm boys were not obligated to perform farm chores and Indian girls were not expected to sew/knit • Native American parents rarely restrain their children o “they do what they like and no one prevents them” • Indian children ran around nearly naked until the age of 5 or 6 where they would put something around their waist  Discipline • Europeans believed that physical punishment was essential • But even if Indian children committed serious misdeeds, “they are not punished, being only reproved with gentle words” • Indian parents believed that threats and physical punishment would make the child timid and submissive o Their goal was to foster pride, independence, and courage  Rituals • Indian parents honoured rites of passage such as newborn children are dipped in cold water or rubbed with animal oil (make them strong brave men and hardy hunters) • Newborns underwent an initiation ceremony where child was given a name from a wealth of family names o This wasn’t a personal name, it was a clan name so many Europeans believed Indians lacked a sense of children as individuals  Menstruation • Indian girls are given an initiation ceremony that marked their exit from girlhood to womanhood • She separated herself from the community and her head was covered with a blanket  For Indian boys: • Ceremonies that marked his first tooth, first step, and the killing of his first big game • Vision quest o Go alone in the forest in apprehension and in need o A guardian spirit (Manitto) appears who promises to protect them • Indian cultures served as a mirror that allowed Europeans to perceive the distinctiveness of their own customs • Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought of alternate ways of bringing up the young, ways that they regarded as more freer and more natural • In New England, the migration in family units , a healthful environment and balanced sex ratio encouraged the development of large, hierarchical families, in which patriarchal fathers used their control of land to postpone the independence of their sons • In Chesapeake young women tended to marry at a very early age • Father’s death resulted in the breakup of a family • Class, not age, defined status in the early Chesapeake region • Bacon’s Rebellion hastened the transition away from indentured servitude and its replacement with racial slavery • Between 1680 and 1720 more stable family patterns emerged among the Chesapeake’s white inhabitants o With the decline of indentured servitude, the sex ratio equalized o Life expectancy rose o Marriages lasted longer o Parent-child ties grew more stable o Kinship networks grew more extensive o Fathers exercised control over the
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