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Children’s Health Issues in Historical Perspective

Cheryl Krasnick Warsh and Veronica Strong-Boag, editors

Paper 568 pp.

ISBN13: 978-0-88920-474-4

Release Date: November 2005

Online discount: 25%

$42.99  $32.24


eBook availability

From sentimental stories about polio to the latest cherub in hospital commercials, sick children tug at the public’s heartstrings. However sick children have not always had adequate medical care or protection. The essays in Children’s Issues in Historical Perspective investigate the identification, prevention, and treatment of childhood diseases from the 1800s onwards, in areas ranging from French-colonial Vietnam to nineteenth-century northern British Columbia, from New Zealand fresh air camps to American health fairs.

Themes include: the role of government and/or the private sector in initiating and underwriting child public health programs; the growth of the profession of pediatrics and its views on “proper” mothering techniques; the role of nationalism, as well as ethnic and racial dimensions in child-saving movements; normative behaviour, social control, and the treatment of “deviant” children and adolescents; poverty, wealth, and child health measures; and the development of the modern children’s hospital.

This liberally illustrated collection reflects the growing academic interest in all aspects of childhood, especially child health, and originates from health care professionals and scholars across the disciplines. An introduction by the editors places the historical themes in context and offers an overview of the contemporary study of children’s health.

Cheryl Krasnick Warsh is a history professor at Malaspina University College and editor-in-chief of the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History. She has published Moments of Unreason: The Practice of Canadian Psychiatry and the Homewood Retreat, 1883-1923; Drink in Canada: Historical Essays; The Changing Nature of Drink: Substance, Imagery and Behaviour, and several studies on womens health and tobacco and alcohol advertising.

Veronica Strong-Boag is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a former president of the Canadian Historical Association. She teaches at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Her publications include The New Day Recalled: Lives of Girls and Women in English Canada, 1919-39 (1988) and Paddling Her Own Canoe: The Times and Texts of E. Pauline Johnson (2000), with Carole Gerson.


“One of the many strengths of the edited book, Children’s Health Issues in Historical Perspective, compiled by Cheryl Krasnick Warsh and Veronica Strong-Boag is it international focus.... Eight of the essays are reprinted from a 2002 issue of the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History. They are worth purchasing as part of this volume, however, because of Warsh’s and Strong-Boag’s excellent introduction. it lucidly sketches the current methodological issues with the field of children’s health history, cogently argues why the past has relevance to contemporary health and social welfare issues pertaining to children and families, and synthesizes the reasons behind why each essay was assigned to the thematic categories [of the volume]. Historians will find much of interest in this book. Children’s health issues are considered in multiple dimensions and within the context of broader methodological trends in history. Children’s diversity, for example, is not ignored, nor is class, race, or sexuality. Issues related to power, the State, the development of voluntary organizations and private philanthropy, colonialism, and the many ways in which childhood can be ‘constructed’ are also explicated. Clinicians will find most of the articles accessibly written, and the Introduction speaks directly to why those more interested in contemporary children’s health care delivery should consider its historical context. For a student new to the field of children’s health historiography, this book is an excellent foundation through which to garner familiarity with the field.”

— Cindy Connolly Yale University School of Nursing, Nursing History Review

“This collection contains examples of the best scholarship in this field, and will provide an excellent foundation for those interested in exploring children’s health issues past and present.”

— Heather Munro Prescott, Central Connecticut State University, Journal of Social History

“The value of the collection ... resides ... in its bringing together in one place a collection of work large and broad enough to provide a substantive and comparative overview not only of child health and health services in the past, but also of the issues and approaches being explored by historians working in the field....The essays in the entire collection are uniformly intelligent, substantive, and well documented. They are also analytically sophisticated.”

Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences

“Compared with current European trends within the field, two features in particular stand out: the strong emphasis on childhood diversity and the explicitly formulated theses on the impact of national political cultures upon health policies.... The mix of commonalities and differences strongly suggests that the history of children’s health has much to gain from taking up broad, systematic comparative studies, and, not least, from investigating international transfers of child-centred medical science and health policy models. The book is a good readn and should inspire both historians of health and medicine, and of the history of children and childhood; it is to be recommended for its richness, for the theoretical grounding and attention to evidence of several chapters, and, not least, for its mediation between childhood history and history of health and medicine.”

— Astri Andresen, University of Bergen, Medical History