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Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood


Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Like Huck's raft, the experience of American childhood has been both adventurous and terrifying. For more than three centuries, adults have agonized over raising children while children have followed their own paths to development and expression. Now, Steven Mintz gives us the first comprehensive history of American childhood encompassing both the child's and the adult's tumultuous early years of life.

Underscoring diversity through time and across regions, Mintz traces the transformation of children from the sinful creatures perceived by Puritans to the productive workers of nineteenth-century farms and factories, from the cosseted cherubs of the Victorian era to the confident consumers of our own. He explores their role in revolutionary upheaval, westward expansion, industrial growth, wartime mobilization, and the modern welfare state. Revealing the harsh realities of children's lives through history--the rigors of physical labor, the fear of chronic ailments, the heartbreak of premature death--he also acknowledges the freedom children once possessed to discover their world as well as themselves.

Whether at work or play, at home or school, the transition from childhood to adulthood has required generations of Americans to tackle tremendously difficult challenges. Today, adults impose ever-increasing demands on the young for self-discipline, cognitive development, and academic achievement, even as the influence of the mass media and consumer culture has grown. With a nod to the past, Mintz revisits an alternative to the goal-driven realities of contemporary childhood. An odyssey of psychological self-discovery and growth, this book suggests a vision of childhood that embraces risk and freedom--like the daring adventure on Huck's raft.


2005 Carr P. Collins Award, Texas Institute of Letters


2005 Merle Curti Award in American Social and/or Cultural History, Organization of American Historians

About the Author

'Steven Mintzis John and Rebecca MooresProfessor of History at the University of Houston.'

Table of Contents



1. Children of theCovenant

2. Red, White, and Black in ColonialAmerica

3. Sons and Daughters ofLiberty

4. Inventing the Middle-ClassChild

5. Growing Up inBondage

6. Childhood Battles of the CivilWar

7. LaboringChildren

8. Save theChild

9. Children under the MagnifyingGlass

10. New to the PromisedLand

11. Revolt of ModernYouth

12. Coming of Age in the GreatDepression

13. Mobilizing Children for World WarII

14. In Pursuit of the PerfectChildhood


16. Parental Panics and the Reshapingof Childhood

17. The Unfinished Century of theChild



Product Details

Mintz, Steven
Belknap Press
Children's Studies
United States - General
Social history
US History-General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
April 2006
Grade Level:
36 halftones
9 x 6 x 1 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » Sociology » Children and Family
History and Social Science » US History » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Astronomy » General

Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood New Trade Paper
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$32.50 In Stock
Product details 464 pages Belknap Press - English 9780674019980 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , 2005 Carr P. Collins Award, Texas Institute of Letters
"Synopsis" by , 2005 Merle Curti Award in American Social and/or Cultural History, Organization of American Historians
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