Foggy History

As a historian in a relatively new field, Mary Jo Maynes’ work reiterates the notions discussed in Stearn and Mintz although with a feminist angle. Maynes narrows her focus down to the history of females, but again (and more importantly), discreetly points to the lack of direct (children’s) historical evidence in this newly developing history. Maynes directly notes this when she writes, “life stories provide a unique perspective on the intersection of individual, collective, institutional, and societal evolution as captured in narratives” (119). This points to the haze surrounding the history of childhood because children aren’t generally known to write narratives about their early lives. Maynes’ piece as a whole compliments Mintz’s work because both works shed light on the marginalized position of the discipline that is the history of childhood.

Pascoe’s and Wilson’s works focus on impacts on children are in severely impact their respective histories, and thus the historiography of the history of children. Generally speaking, both works focus on interactions with children versus first-person documentation. For example, Pascoe delves into the history of children in relation to welfare institutions. Her delving contributes to the notion that it is incredibly difficult to find a base for teaching children’s history because most histories are written from experiences or from viewing documents that are either written or drawn. In Wilson’s work, examining Aries, this same notion of lack of sources (on children’s history) is present. In his evaluation, Wilson preaches the same idea (through Aries) – the only real children’s historical evidence we have is from the top down. Aries implied that ‘apprenticeship was universal’ in his work, and this is pertinent to children’s history because since an apprenticeship involves the interaction between adults and children.

Similar to Maynes, Davin also focuses on the history of female children in her work. Davin also alludes to the lack of sources present to study the history of childhood, delving into how poverty affects the history of childhood. Rhodes’ work was very compelling to read as she focuses her work on the period of time that is childhood rather than the historical process of documenting the history of childhood. Rhodes makes the point that, for the most part, people have a general idea of what ‘childhood’ is supposed to be. Rhodes writes, “As a society then, we tend to both idealize and mythologize children and childhood” (Rhodes 121). Everybody’s life is different, and thus, everybody’s childhoods are different, despite a common perception of childhood. Because the ‘relics’ and ‘artifacts’ would be objects that were given to children, and even if these objects were made by children – there is only so much the said child-worker would be able to divulge about the artifact that supposedly possesses information about the said child’s childhood. It’s confusing. The biggest question I have honestly is why are people putting so much time into forming a history of childhood? Is it the challenge of the history and historiography of childhood that is appealing to the historian? How much do children reflect adults?

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