Paula S. Fass

The End of American Childhood

A History of Parenting from Life on the Frontier to the Managed Child

Princeton University Press 2016

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in EducationNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network August 11, 2016 Lilian Calles Barger

Paula S. Fass is a professor of history emerita at the University of California, Berkeley. Her book The End of American Childhood: A History...

Paula S. Fass is a professor of history emerita at the University of California, Berkeley. Her book The End of American Childhood: A History of Parenting from Life on the Frontier to the Managed Child (Princeton University Press, 2016) traces the changing views of childhood and childrearing as it followed the fortunes of the nation. Beginning with the nation’s founding when independence was fostered in children, to the nineteenth-century sentimental view of childhood as a time of innocence, to today’s parental anxiety about their children’s success, Fass examines both the changing opinions of childrearing experts and the class differentiated practices of rural and urban Americans. As childhood extended into late adolescences the transition to adulthood was harder to define. Fass challenges parents to identify with what they share with previous generations and reconnect with the values that set American childhood apart from the rest of the world: the fostering of independence, self-definition, and competence.


Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is entitled The World Come of Age: Religion, Intellectuals and the Challenge of Human Liberation.

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