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At the turn of the 20th century in the United States, child study referred to a new disciplinary field dedicated to the scientific study of children. Child study was also an organized club movement among women, mainly mothers, in search of scientific knowledge about educating and rearing children. Interest in the scientific study of the child reflected a new child centeredness in American family life and the influence of 19th-century positivism with its quest for universal laws governing human behavior.

This entry describes the two-pronged history of child study as an academic discipline and a lay movement promoting scientific motherhood. It examines the contributions of experimental psychologists such as Granville Stanley Hall who wanted to professionalize the study of the child and women organized in ...

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