Project

Fighting for Our Children: Women's Activism, the Battle Over Child Care, and the Politics of Welfare, 1940-1971

Program

ACLS Fellowship Program

Abstract

This project traces the growth and development of a cross-class coalition of early childhood educators and working mothers who fought for child care during a tumultuous period of transition—from the cautious optimism of the postwar moment to the repressive political climate of the Cold War to the widespread social protests of the 1960s. This study focuses on California, the only state to convert World War II child care centers into a permanent state-sponsored program. I trace the formation of a sophisticated political strategy by mothers and educators, which won early victories but ultimately failed to stave off the disparaging ideological association between the state's child care centers and welfare during the War on Poverty.