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Child Care in Black and White: Working Parents and the History of Orphanages [Hardcover]

Jessie B. Ramey

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Book Description

April 2 2012 Working Class in American History


This innovative study examines the development of institutional childcare 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. 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 raises new questions about the role of childcare in constructing and perpetrating social inequality in the United States.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (April 2 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252036905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252036903
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g

Product Description


"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

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

"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

"Child Care in Black and White is part of the University of Illinois Press’s superb ‘‘The Working Class in American History’’ series, and it effectively ties orphanages into a broad array of historical literatures, including but not limited to working-class life, African American life, and arguments about both motherhood and women’s work. . . . valuable to readers interested in families, children, poverty, labor, race, gender, and class in turn of the century America."--Journal of Family History









"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

"Child Care in Black and White, Jessie B. Ramey’s study of two Pittsburgh orphanages, the United Presbyterian Orphan’s Home UPOH and the Home for Colored Children HCC, during the years 1878–1929, is an extraordinary contribution to the history of US orphanages and child care institutions. . . . a valuable resource in advanced child and family policy courses in social work. Students will learn from its complexity, its attention to both micro and macro issues, and its unusually strong example of mixed-method, historical research."--Social Service Review

About the Author

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

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A precious piece of history! June 14 2012
By Mark Grago - Published on
At last! It is with great satisfaction that I compose a review of such an interesting and less well known topic of local history. As I resident of the Pittsburgh area, I developed a curiosity about the orphanages in and around our region. For many years I was told countless horror stories of the supposed conditions and physical abuse that went on;indeed, in my own county, we have the history and legend of the infamous "Cora Blackledge" who operated a local orphanage in Beaver,Pa. At her height,she mothered close to a 1,000 children, many at her own expense; though her reputation was rather "cruel."

Professor Ramey puts this darkened and obscure period of history into its proper light and provides us with a candid and eloquent testament of the day-to-day operations of these facilities. The book starts with the mystical history of the beginning of the United Presbyterian Orphan's Home in Pittsburgh and how it was transformed in the "Mars Home for Youth"(Now situated in Mars,Pa). Throughout, she gives fascinating and informative detail of how orphans were treated, the impact it had on their families, and the enivitable outcome it would have on their lives. A splendid work on an intriguing subject!

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