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Children and Youth During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era$
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James Marten

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479894147

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479894147.001.0001

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The Contested Meanings of Child Marriage in the Turn-of-the-Century United States

The Contested Meanings of Child Marriage in the Turn-of-the-Century United States

Chapter:
(p.145) 7 The Contested Meanings of Child Marriage in the Turn-of-the-Century United States
Source:
Children and Youth During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Author(s):

Nicholas L. Syrett

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479894147.003.0008

This chapter explores the changing definitions of childhood in the United States at the turn of the century and how some “children” resisted raising the marriage age. Drawing on a variety of sources such as newspaper stories and court cases from the period roughly between 1880 and 1920, it considers the contested meanings of child marriage for the children who married, the society in which they lived, the parents, and reformers who objected to the practice. It also discusses the motivations of children who married as well as the consequences of child marriage for the children involved. Finally, it examines the attitudes of society toward child marriages as a reflection of the changing norms of childhood and adolescence.

Keywords:   childhood, United States, children, court cases, child marriage, parents, reformers, adolescence

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