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A Conversation with Kriste Lindenmeyer and James Marten

Origins Project Issue 2

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Join part 2 of the Origins Project. This month we listen to former SHCY presidents, and founding members, Kriste Lindenmeyer and James Marten discuss the history and future of the society.

SHCY Origins Project

The Origins Project is the start of an effort to create a digital archive about the history of the field of childhood, children, and youth history. The 1960s fostered new fields of historical study examining the experiences of many groups generally overlooked by earlier scholarship. Part of this expansion included the history of children and childhood, but the field gained little traction over the next two decades. In the 1990s, however, a heightened interest in the ways children and youth reflected and shaped the values of communities, societies, politics, and public policy throughout the world reached a critical mass. Focusing on children and childhood provided new perspectives on important historical questions as well exposing the experiences of societies’ youngest members. In the words of Joseph Hawes, “Childhood is where you see culture in high relief.” 

In this atmosphere, a group of approximately 60 scholars gathered in Washington, DC August 5-6, 2000 to discuss if there was a future for the field. Approximately one year later, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 28, 2001, 180 interested researchers founded the Society for the History of Children and Youth (SHCY).

With the 20th anniversary of the founding of SHCY in 2021, it is time to evaluate the emergence of the SHCY and the development of the field centered on the histories of children and youth. The Origins Project will continue to evolve as participants explore that relationship through recorded conversations, interviews, and questionnaires conducted with historians from around the world. Many participants were among the early leaders of SHCY, H-Childhood, and of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

About Kriste Lindenmeyer

Kriste Lindenmeyer is University Professor and Dean Kriste LindenmeyerEmerita at Rutgers University—Camden. During her academic career she was also a professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), Tennessee Technological University, and Vanderbilt University. Lindenmeyer was a 2004-2005 Fulbright Senior Scholar in Germany, specifically Martin Luther Universistaet-Halle-Wittenberg. Her research focuses on the history of U.S. public policy, especially issues related to children and families. Her publications include The Greatest Generation Grows Up: Childhood in 1930s and The U.S. Children’s Bureau and Child Welfare, 1912–1946. She is a founding member and past president of the Society for the History of Children and Youth; 2005-07. 

About James Marten

James MartinJames Marten is Professor of History at Marquette University. His scholarship focuses on the Civil War era and the histories of children and youth. He is the author of numerous books including The Children’s Civil WarSing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America,  and America’s Corporal: James Tanner in War and Peace.  His work also includes a number of edited anthologies, including the six-volume A Cultural History of Childhood and Family (co-edited with Elizabeth Foyster and published by Berg in 2010). Dr. Marten edited the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth from 2013-2018 and he is a past president of both the Society for the History of Children and Youth and of the Society of Civil War Historians. He has two forthcoming books: A Very Short Introduction to the History of Childhood and a co-edited volume, More than Victims: War and Childhood in the Age of the World Wars and two anthologies: The Oxford Handbook of the History of Youth Culture and Buying and Selling the Civil War (co-edited with Caroline Janney).