Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Austin Reading Room

Subject Area

History

Description

During the anti-tuberculosis movement of the 1930s and 1940s, children were chosen as focal points, with their roles shaped by society’s changing view of childhood, the emergence of the middle class, and the socioeconomic and political climate. Children were used by middle-class reformers as conduits through which to disseminate information and enact controls on the working class. Health education in schools had two main goals: (1) for educated children to become educated adults, and (2) for educated children to transform the behaviors of adults around them. Although researchers have studied middle-class interventions into children’s health, few have analyzed the role children themselves played in the middle class’s goal of asserting themselves as intellectually and morally superior to the working class via the education of the working-class children. Using primary source material, such as curriculum guides and educational materials designed for children’s consumption (e.g., Huber the Tuber), this paper thus examines how and why children’s health education became a hotbed of middle- and working-class conflict, particularly with regards to beliefs in science and Western medicine, during the 1930s and 1940s.

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Selling Childhood: How the Middle Class Used Children in the Anti-Tuberculosis Movement (1930s-1940s)

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Austin Reading Room

During the anti-tuberculosis movement of the 1930s and 1940s, children were chosen as focal points, with their roles shaped by society’s changing view of childhood, the emergence of the middle class, and the socioeconomic and political climate. Children were used by middle-class reformers as conduits through which to disseminate information and enact controls on the working class. Health education in schools had two main goals: (1) for educated children to become educated adults, and (2) for educated children to transform the behaviors of adults around them. Although researchers have studied middle-class interventions into children’s health, few have analyzed the role children themselves played in the middle class’s goal of asserting themselves as intellectually and morally superior to the working class via the education of the working-class children. Using primary source material, such as curriculum guides and educational materials designed for children’s consumption (e.g., Huber the Tuber), this paper thus examines how and why children’s health education became a hotbed of middle- and working-class conflict, particularly with regards to beliefs in science and Western medicine, during the 1930s and 1940s.

 

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