19th Century Childhood: The Lives of Children Among the Shakers and the World’s People
by Sharon Roth, Ed. D.
The Shakers, a historical Utopian religious society and culture, is preserved today in two New Hampshire museums, at Canterbury and Enfield. Hundreds of children, particularly orphans, were taken in by the Shakers and raised in the Shaker traditions and religion including: a belief in the second coming of Christ, communal living, celibacy, humility, simplicity, efficiency, hard work, and equality between the sexes. So what of the life of these children and children of the 19th century in general?
Explore 19th century childhood, a comparison of sorts, between the World's Children (what the Shakers called those who did not live as Shakers) and Shaker children, and child development theories then and now.
Who are America’s children in the nineteenth century? What are the expectations of the child in United States during this time? What did those living in mid-century understand to be the role of children? Can we attempt any understanding about children of the nineteenth century when we put them in the context of what the greater American culture believed about children and their growth and development?
In this article Sharon shares interesting and historical perspectives of the lives and upbringing of children who were fortunate enough to attend our country schools or who were farmed out to work under terrible conditions.
The intent of the article is to consider for further research and thought the possibility that the beliefs about children, no matter who or where they lived, influenced what we believe today about how those lives might have been lived.
To read Dr. Roth's article in its entirety you can access the PDF below:
Sharon Roth has spent the greater part of her life dedicated to education. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Goddard College in Vermont, and her Ed. D from UMass, Amherst. She was a professor of education at Greenfield Community College through 2014, an early childhood consultant, director and coordinator for numerous early childhood community centers, a kindergarten and pre-school teacher, and program director for various child care services. She has taught numerous education courses including student teaching, early childhood curriculum, infant and toddler, and special education. Sharon has published countless publications and made a score of presentations. According to her blog at www.profsharon.net, “I wear a variety of hats: life partner, mother, grandmother, family member (family is first on my list!) — professor of education, lover of all things beautiful such as children, quilts, sunsets, and clouds — esoteric reader — enjoy all things Shaker — great cook — love to walk and be at the seashore and in the forests.