Research On the History of Babies

by Press Release | Mar 7, 2010
Research On the History of Babies Parents have sought advice on infant-care practices for generations, but a Rutgers–Camden professor is uncovering how those methods have evolved and influenced American culture.

Janet Golden, a professor of history at Rutgers–Camden, has earned a highly prestigious fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study the history of babies in modern America.

The $50,400 NEH “We the People” fellowship will allow Golden to research her forthcoming book, Infants and Infancy in 20th Century America.

The book will delve into how demographic factors like ethnicity and income shape the rearing of American babies. It will also explore how our expectations of babies have changed over the past century.

“This will be the first book to analyze the dramatic transformations in the lives of babies resulting from ongoing changes in American life in the domains of medicine, the marketplace, politics, demography, family life and popular culture,” Golden says.

Golden’s extensive research will draw upon more than 800 baby books in which parents of all social classes have detailed the lives of their infants. She describes those books as “unexplored and significant” sources.

Her research will also include family papers, diaries, letters, transcribed oral histories, folklore accounts, and studying representations of babies in print, on television and film, and on Web sites.

Golden has been a member of the history faculty at the Camden Campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, since 1992. She is a specialist in medical history, women's history, children's history and American social history.

The author or editor of several books, including Message in a Bottle: The Making of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and A Social History of Wet Nursing: From Breast to Bottle, Golden is a member of the Research, Education and Advocacy Committee of the Maternity Care Coalition. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston University.

NEH’s “We the People” project grants support programs sponsored by state humanities councils that explore significant events and themes in American history and culture.

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Author: Press Release

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