History of Childhood

  • Elias J
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T he history of childhood is a rich and growing field that reveals much about societies in the past but also about connections between past conditions and current issues and trends. It can contribute thus to an active, interdisciplinary discussion about the nature of childhood itself, and about variations among regions, social classes and the two genders. The field has been gaining strength and range during the past two decades. It boasts, among other things, its own journal (Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth) and scholarly association, with an international scholarly board (Colon, 2001; Fass, 2004; Stearns, 2010). This essay seeks to highlight major findings and issues in the history of childhood, while suggesting areas of interest with professionals in the mental health field. Thus a number of childhood disorders have a clear history, and a clear connection with the broader history of children: modern patterns of anorexia nervosa are a case in point. Broader aspects of the history of childhood – for example, the emergence of the concept and experience of adolescence, also flow from historical analysis and can contribute well beyond the discipline.




Elias, J. A. (1976). History of Childhood. Children’s Literature, 5(1), 247–252. https://doi.org/10.1353/chl.0.0741

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