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Child Care in Black and White

Working Parents and the History of Orphanages

Jessie B. Ramey

Publication Year: 2012

This innovative study examines the development of institutional child care 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 child care in constructing and perpetrating social inequality in the United States.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: The Working Class in American History


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-9

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

In producing this study, I have accumulated many debts of gratitude and been reminded many times that writing history is a collaborative activity, no matter how many hours...

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Introduction: Constructing Orphans

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pp. 1-9

The idea for this book began with these words, written by my grandmother about her own mother’s childhood in an orphanage. In thinking about her experience one day, it occurred...

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Chapter 1. Institutionalizing Orphans: The Founding and Managing Women

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pp. 10-31

Nearly every historical account of the founding of the United Presbyterian Orphans Home begins by paying homage to Rev. James Fulton, the young pastor of the Fourth United Presbyterian...

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Chapter 2. Raising Orphans: The Child Care Dilemma of Families in Crisis

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pp. 32-65

Born in Ireland in 1836, the ill-fated Isabella Nelson was living in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, with her mother and sister when she met her future husband, James Longmore...

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Chapter 3. Boarding Orphans: Working Parents' Use of Orphanages as Child Care

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pp. 66-101

In their fiftieth anniversary report, the United Presbyterian Orphan’s Home proudly reflected on the thousands of children they had helped and pictured them stretching back in time...

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Chapter 4. Fathering Orphans: Gender and Institutional Child Care

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pp. 102-130

In 1880, at the age of twenty-three, James Caldwell and his new bride, twenty-year-old Jessie, set sail from Scotland. James had a career as a police officer but had already made...

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Chapter 5. Reforming Orphans: Progressive Reformers and Staff in the Development of Child Care Organ

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pp. 131-158

On the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, the Home for Colored Children (HCC) recorded this version of its founding story, tracing the genesis of the institution to a state law...

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Chapter 6. Segregating Orphans: The Home for Colored Children

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pp. 159-193

In 1916 the Pittsburg Dispatch published this account of the founding of the Home for Colored Children, capturing nearly all the details of what would become the institution’s modern origins story: a rainy day, a lost little girl, Reverend Fulton...

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Conclusion: Contesting Orphans

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pp. 194-204

The story of my great-great grandfather, the widower James Caldwell, sparked my interest in the topic of orphanages. But when this project began, I was under the impression,...

Appendix A: Data Sets and Statistical Methodology

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pp. 205-206

Appendix B: Biographical Comparison of HCC and UPOH Founding Managers

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pp. 207-208

Appendix C: Birthplace of HCC Parents

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pp. 209-210


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pp. 211-244


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pp. 245-260


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pp. 261-262


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pp. 263-271

About the Author, Further Reading, Production Notes, Back Cover

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pp. 272-272

E-ISBN-13: 9780252094422
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252036903

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The Working Class in American History
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OCLC Number: 826443633
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Child Care in Black and White

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Orphanages -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- History.
  • Children -- Institutional care -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- History.
  • Working poor -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- History.
  • Poor women -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- History.
  • Race discrimination -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- History.
  • Race relations -- History.
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