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History of Motherhood: 1750 to 1900

  • By: B. Scott Crawford
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Between 1750 and 1900 mothers continued to perform domestic-based duties related to the rearing of children. However, in western Europe and America, certain societal ideals about women and motherhood began to change, which established both gender stereotypes and created a new ideological, politically charged construct of both womanhood and motherhood. In essence, while actual duties of mothers remained similar to those of mothers in previous ages, societal constructs and understandings of motherhood changed in some ways subtly and in others profoundly.

Rapid urbanization in Europe, facilitated by the industrial revolution, brought about many changes affecting motherhood. Because migrants to cities tended to be young, birth rates in cities were often quite high and overcrowding and lack of sanitary facilities provided ideal grounds to spread disease. The ...

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