In the Archives of Childhood: Personal and Historical Pasts


ACLS Fellowship Program


American Studies and English


Childhood studies adds age to the triad—gender, race, and class—that organize so much humanities scholarship. “In the Archives of Childhood” asks how this addition matters for the study of history. Childhood is, after all, the past each adult recollects. The ties between archival preservation, library and museum collections, print culture, memory, and the personal past that is childhood, illuminate not only the new field of childhood studies, but also the many disciplines and institutions that strive to access, understand, and recall a time that is gone. In a series of child-centered case studies from the nineteenth-century United States, from the marginalia child readers left in Robinson Crusoe, or the “museum” Leland Stanford Jr. arranged in his family’s attic, to reports of slave-childhood in WPA interviews, and the records of the Chicago Nursery and Half Orphan Asylum, this project queries childhood’s effect on the practices that preserve the past.