Child Savers/Child-Saving Movement, U.S. History

The U.S. child-saving movement has its roots in the mid-19th century, when industrialization led to rapid urbanization. While industrialization increased material possessions, it also created urban communities with social problems. Social activists focused on prisons, asylums, and children. The child-saving movement resulted in laws passed to limit child labor and institute education in the second half of the 1800s. It influenced the development of the juvenile court in 1899. This entry examines the origins of child savers and the child-saving movement, the phenomena of orphan trains, child labor, and education reforms in the late 19th century, the eventual establishment of the first juvenile justice court, and women’s specific role in child saving and the child-saving movement.

The Need to Save Children

During this time, manufacturing increased, ...

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