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2023 Award Winners

The Society for the History of Children and Youth (SHCY) is pleased to announce the prizewinners for the best publications and dissertation on the history of children, childhood, or youth (broadly construed) published in 2021-22.




Friederike Kind-Kovács, Budapest's Children: Humanitarian Relief in the Aftermath of the Great War. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2022.





Prize Citation

The panel was firstly impressed by Kind-Kovács’ revelation of a history that was poorly understood, using foreign language materials that rarely feature in Anglophone publications on the history of childhood and youth. Her widespread use of archival materials in Britain, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, and the United States demonstrate a researcher with considerable discipline as well as methodological sophistication. By being both local and global, Budapest's Children is transnational history at its best. Kind-Kovács did not merely tell the institutional story of relief efforts in Hungary, but showed transformative impact across Europe and North America, as well as including children’s accounts and images. Kind-Kovács’ book shows how the critical history of childhood as a construct remains a determining force in modern history but, by making children the centre of her story, she shows how important they are as historical actors. Engaging, informative, and beautifully written, Budapest’s Children is a model for how the history of childhood and youth should be done.



Ivón Padilla-Rodríguez, ‘“Los Hijos Son La Riqueza Del Pobre:” Mexican Child Migration and the Making of Domestic (Im)migrant Exclusion, 1937-1960’, Journal of American Ethnic History 42:1 (2022), 43-81.



Author Contact: ipr@uic.edu

Prize Citation

Focusing on Mexican youth migrants in the decades around and after World War II, this insightful and carefully written article considers both internal and international migration, and makes links between youth migration/mobility, ‘mechanisms of removal’ and sustained ‘labor exploitation, educational deprivation, and confinement’ that still pertain today (p. 68). Therefore, such distinctions as movement within nation or between nations are false – these are interconnected systems. Overlooking this leads to false understandings of how migration and migration policies have worked in the past. The committee readily saw the implications of this particular study for thinking about youth migration across time and geographic spaces and its applicability to the early twenty-first century moment. The author is commended for skilfully examining a wide range of discretely located sources, to show how overlapping or connected sets of laws, labour regulations, policies, and enforcement practices at different sites cause harm to children and deny them access to important resources, opportunities, and safety. Furthermore, the article works well in that: the narrative moves nicely between the micro and macro, the abstract and the lived experience (by including small anecdotes of how these legal regimes and discriminatory acts resulted in tragic consequences for individual children and their families); and it includes rare accounts of marginalized migrant children attempting to interact with the political system to address their deprivation and exclusion and to advocate for their family and welfare. As such this article, while explicitly located in the North American context, makes a valuable contribution to youth migration as a still developing area of historical scholarship. We congratulate Ivón Padilla-Rodríguez and wish her well for future research and writing.


Honorable Mentions

Sarah Curtis, ‘Model Girls and Model Dolls in Nineteenth-Century France’, French Historical Studies 45:1 (2022), 87-120.

Author Contact: scurtis@sfsu.edu

The committee would like to make honourable mention of Sarah Curtis’s lively, refreshing, passionate and thought-provoking article on French girlhood and doll culture/literature of the nineteenth century. We liked how it modelled the complementary use of varied sources drawn from both material culture and children’s literature in mutually enriching ways. The article ably explored ideas about class and gender. In the process it illuminated not just a history of French dolls but a history of consumer culture, children's literature (doll literature and magazines), French girlhood, adult expectations, and of girl's doll play. In the process an important focus emerged, which showed that the messaging to girls about class and gender was clear, but not always in expected ways. It shows that girls could and did invert, ignore and resist that messaging. The article thus transcends its immediate focus by offering a fresh analytical and interpretive lens for scholars of girlhood and of material culture in the long nineteenth century.


Masako Hattori, ‘The Second Phase of War: Youth in US-occupied Japan’, Diplomatic History 46:5 (2022).

Author Contact: mhattori@nus.edu.sg

The committee would like to make honourable mention of Masako Hattori’s conceptually interesting and provocative article. It extends how the Japanese occupation by America, post-World War II, can be interpreted (through the lens of youth) and it offers a helpful reflection on age as a category of analysis sitting astride the cultural divides of America and Japan. We liked this culturally differentiated paring apart of ‘childhood’ and ‘youth’. It focuses on how youth could be a site for both controlling and re-negotiating wider polities of empire and world post-1945, thus highlighting cultural and political factors defining youth and youth as a productive site of transcultural tension. On a wider front, it presciently reminds us that age-based categories like ‘youth’ are not innocent or benign, but can possess latent biopolitical effects, in this case, by justifying adult or state intervention over young people's lives.



Tuomas Laine-Frigren, “Ask the Doctor: Mental Hygiene Among the Young in Fin-de-Siècle Finland” published in Social History of Medicine, 20:20 (2022), 1-20.

Author contact: tuomas.laine-frigren@tuni.fi

Prize Citation

Laine-Frigren offers an inspiring and innovative study of children’s and young people’s perspectives through the lens of how listening was enacted in a socio-medical context in the beginning of 20th century. The article examines a rich set of original sources, notably medical advisory material and letters written by young people in which they articulated their concerns about their own mental health to a social hygiene doctor who ran an advice column in a popular health magazine. Through careful readings, Laine-Frigren demonstrates how the young authors adapted contemporary mental hygiene concepts, especially terms such as ‘nerves’ or ‘nervousness,’ to interpret and communicate their experiences. Through his perceptive analysis Laine-Frigren makes unexpected findings such as that “telling” the doctor became an act of mental self-help rather than (merely) a subjection to a medical examining gaze of the body. Particularly interesting are his informed reflections on how these letters contributed to the development of the social hygiene movement in Finland, something which compels us to rethink the significance of young people in a context traditionally considered outside their sphere of influence. The article receives the prize for its originality, analytical skill, and strong historical craftmanship.


Honorable Mention

Ning de Coninck-Smith and Charlotte Appel, "500 Years of Danish School History: Methodologies, Agencies, and Connecting Narratives." Published online: 25 Aug 2021, in Paedagogica Historica, DOI: 10.1080/00309230.2021.1965174

Author cotacts: ning@edu.au.dk and chap@cas.au.dk

The authors present an innovative approach to Danish school history, which they applied as research leaders and co-editors of a five-volume publication chronicling the past 500 years of Danish school history. Rather than a traditional top-down approach, the researchers employed novel methodological tools to examine how schooling was done, experienced, negotiated, and contested by a range of agents, including pupils, parents, teachers, and authorities. By seeking to enter the "black box" of schooling, the authors examined both extraordinary events and the everyday realities of school life. The article convincingly introduces key innovative methodological tools and main findings. It is likely to inspire a reorientation in the field of school history and to invite new research projects that explore the complexity of chronologies and experiences of schooling from a variety of perspectives. Accordingly, it is rewarded with an honorable mention.




The Committee is very pleased to recommend that the prize be awarded to Jacob Doss for his outstanding dissertation, ‘Making Monastic Men: Gender and Imagined “Childhood” in Cistercian Formation in the Long Twelfth Century’ (University of Texas at Austin, 2022).

Author contact: jacobwdoss@gmail.com

Prize Citation

Doss’s dissertation brilliantly examines the co-creation of childhood and adulthood within the Cistercian monastic order in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. He considers how monastic masculinities were not constructed solely against the figure of the woman, but also against the figure of the child. Despite the paucity of primary sources dealing with children’s voices in medieval history, Doss does a remarkable job centring children as well as childhood as a category. Although in the twelfth-century monastic tradition it was common for children to be given to the monastery for religious and economic reasons, Cistercian monasteries turned away from young oblates toward adult recruits. Actual children (as potential victims of pederasty in all-male communities, and as individuals under fifteen needing care in the monastery) upset monastic practice. In the absence of children, childhood itself became the primary metaphor through which adults measured the progression of recruits. Adult novices could be conceptualised as ‘tender’, unformed, unruly and emotional, in comparison to the full monk, who preserved his own bodily integrity and successfully navigated the ‘wilderness’ of the monastery, proving his martial manliness. Doss’s dissertation is notable in thinking about how childhood and adulthood are defined in relation to each other, and how these ideas intersect with discourses of gender but are also separate from them. His focus on the construction of age-identities and multiple genders within the medieval religious landscape is particularly timely given the complexities of these ideologies today.


Runner Up

The Committee would like to recognise Sabrina González for her brilliant dissertation, ‘Schools as Laboratories: Science, Children's Bodies, and School Reformers in the Making of Modern Argentina (1880-1930)’ (University of Maryland, 2022).

Author contact: sabgonz1@umd.edu

This dissertation considers how transnational scientific ideas impacted local educational theory and practice after education was made compulsory in Argentina, arguing that female reformers both championed progressive education and transformed children into ‘objects of study’. This research adds nuance not only to the historiography of childhood, but to the developing historiography of modern Argentina, which has largely been dominated by studies of post-colonial legacies, immigration, and nation-building. González conceptualizes the classroom as a site of power and knowledge, examining the disciplining of children’s bodies to build modern Argentina. She incorporates and highlights children’s voices in her usage of primary sources produced by students themselves, giving us an opportunity to gain more direct insight than we expect. Furthermore, González’s examination of the state’s secular and positivist educational agenda speaks to Argentina’s nationalistic – and racist – progression towards modernity as well as childhood’s place within that agenda. Drawing on an impressive range of primary sources, from school archives to teachers’ memoirs, magazines focused on children’s education, international congresses, and scientific journals, González shows how female teachers both challenged the state and contributed to making children into good capitalist workers.



Biennial Awards



Chiara Martinelli, “«Le querce non fanno limoni». Mutamenti scolastici e sociali nelle testimonianze orali relative agli anni Cinquanta, Sessanta e Settanta”, published in History of Education and Children’s Literature, xvii, 1 (2022), pp.517-536.

Author contact: chiara.martinelli@unifi.it

Prize Citation

This article is based on interviews collected in the context of a major project conducted by the University of Florence on “School Memories between Social Perception and Collective Representation (Italy, 1861-2001). The interviews represent a major source for the study of perceptions and experiences related to Italian schools in the postwar period, and the article provides important insights into the experiences and understanding of the relationships taking place in and around schools, and on the memory processes associated to them. Among the critical issues analysed by Martinelli are the discrepancies observed between urban and rural areas in the educational experience of the postwar years, the role of class in shaping educational experiences, and the significance of 1968 as a chronological watershed for the Italian educational system. Relying on a large number of interviews collected in different parts of Italy, the article is able to provide a broad tapestry of experiences and perceptions. As the author acknowledges, the article represents the beginning of a process of analysis that will find full accomplishment in the context of a large collective project, which we believe will represent a crucial step in the Italian historiographical discussion.


Honorable Mention

Simone Di Biasio, “I bambini ciclopi. Un capitolo “dimenticato” della storia dell’educazione del Novecento: la rappresentazione dell’infanzia nell’opera di Marshall McLuhan”, published in Francesca Borruso (ed.) Memoria, infanzia, educazione, Modelli educativi e vita quotidiana fra otto e novecento, Roma Tre Press, 2021.

Author contact: simone.dibiasio@uniroma3.it

Moving from an article published by Marshall McLuhan in 1967 (The invisible environment: the future of an erosion), the author explores the relevance of “the child” in McLuhan's understanding of social relations. Through an extensive discussion of the intellectual and academic context in which McLuhan’s theses developed and thanks to an accurate analysis of the sociologist’s work, Di Biasio convincingly demonstrates that childhood and education should not be seen as marginal themes in McLuhan body of work, but rather as crucial analytical categories, essential to a full understanding of his thought. In doing so, Di Biasio offers an important re-reading of McLuhan, and provides important analytical instruments through which to interrogate the category of childhood in contemporary sociological and cultural theory.




Sonja Matter for her article “Adoleszente Mädchen, das sexuelle Schutzalter und die sexuelle Liberalisierung“ in Österreich der 1960er und 1970er Jahre“, published in: Body Politics 9 (2021), pp. 73-92 (Teenage Girls, the Age of Consent, and “Sexual Liberalization” in Austria in the 1960s and 1970s).

Author Contact: Sonja.matter@unibe.ch

Prize Citation

The article examines an important topic in the history of childhood and youth: the contested legal debates about the age of consent. The author excels not only in presenting an fine-grained analysis of changes and (even more importantly) continuities within these debates and their legal effects across national boundaries between the 1950s and the 1970s. Moreover, she convincingly shows how legal arguments were intimately linked to larger cultural norms and social visions. The article argues persuasively that even in the 1970s sexual bodily markers served as the main basis for most experts to determine the age limit for sexual relations between adults and minors. While the children´s body before the onset of puberty had to be protected, male desire of an underage girl´s body was legitimate if this body could be read as an adult one. Law reforms in Austria (and West Germany) in the 1970s did not significantly alter this understanding and therefore power relations between men and underage girls. All in all, the article represents a fine and original piece of scholarship that enhances our understanding of the intricate interrelations between childhood, the law and cultural values and norms.




Viviana P. Keegan, “La infancia irlandesa en The Southern Cross (Argentina, 1875-1910), Ideas 6:6 (2020)

Author contact: vivianakeegan@gmail.com

Viviana P. Keegan’s article is a finely researched discussion of Irish-Argentine representations of themes related to children’s education, health, and material culture. Keegan begins with the rich and underutilized source, the newspaper The Southern Cross, an Irish Catholic organ founded in Buenos Aires in 1875 for its Irish-Argentine immigrant community. The author establishes the significance of this means of cultural reproduction about Irish immigrant children in multiple contexts, including turn-of-the-century immigrant Buenos Aires and the larger Irish diaspora in the Americas. Keegan then provides a detailed disposition of how The Southern Cross’s focus on children and youth reflected the Irish-Argentine community’s preoccupation with maintaining connection with Ireland and navigating their new identity in Argentina.




Winner: Inès Anrich, “Le lien familial à l’épreuve du couvent. Les oppositions des parents à la vocation de leur fille en France et en Espagne au XIXe siècle”, Le Mouvement Social, 279, Avril-Juin 2022, pp. 31-48.

Author contact: ines.anrich@gmail.com


Cet article très stimulant propose de saisir, à travers une démarche comparative entre la France et l'Espagne, une norme (le lien familial) au prisme de cas de transgressions et de conflits familiaux (l'entrée au couvent). La force de l'article réside dans le fait de parvenir à contextualiser et à replacer finement les enfants - en l'occurrence les filles - au sein de l'organisation familiale, comprise dans toutes ses dimensions (aussi bien économiques qu'affectives). Sur la méthodologie, on est frappé par une très grande maîtrise des outils au service de la démonstration (beaucoup de graphiques, d'évaluations chiffrées, de tableaux qui rendent la lecture intéressante et précise). La dimension genrée de cette histoire est une force, qui donne à l'article tout son intérêt dans l'histoire des familles au XIXe siècle et du traitement différencié des filles et des garçons (la réflexion autour des distances et de l'éloignement géographique sont particulièrement convaincantes). L’autrice s’appuie sur une maitrise remarquable de l’historiographie francophone, hispanophone et anglophone, et fait preuve d’une curiosité au-delà des frontières nationales et disciplinaires évidentes. Cet article, qui n'est pas à proprement parler inséré dans l'historiographie des childhood studies démontre pourtant la force des réflexions plus générales apportées par les historien-nes de la famille (et, fait très intéressant ici, de l'histoire religieuse). Article très original dont le choix du sujet est percutant et passionnant.