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This entry discusses the rise and decline of babysitting—providing temporary childcare for pay, typically while the parents are away from home—as a source of income for American girls and a source of convenience and irritation for the parents who hire them. For more than a century, the job that has been the gateway to employment for young people, especially girls, has been shaped by broad historical forces, from shifting demographics and economics to changing child-rearing ideals and competing notions of girlhood. Babysitting has been long characterized by much fluctuation and mutual frustration, and the trope of the White, middle-class babysitter has served as a lightning rod for cultural anxieties about the threat that gender and generational changes pose to the social order.

The Rise of ...

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