New volume of Childhood in the Past is out now!

The new volume (9.1) for Childhood in the Past has just been released. Please click the journal link here.

Eileen Murphy has provided an editorial that summarises recent SSCIP activities and events, and the great line-up of papers in this volume (below)

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Eileen M. Murphy

Welcome to the spring issue of Volume nine of Childhood in the Past, the journal of the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past (SSCIP). As you will see from the listing on the inside back cover of the volume some changes have been made to the SSCIP committee this year and we are especially delighted to welcome Hugh Cunningham, Grete Lillehammer and Nicholas Orme to the honorary positions of Vice Presidents, in recognition of the outstanding contributions they have made to the study of childhood in the past.

Throughout 2015, SSCIP was extremely busy in terms of events and, in addition to organising two meetings, the Society supported a further three conference sessions. The SSCIP Spring conference, which was on the theme of ‘Re-imagining Childhood: Images, Objects and the Voice of the Child’, took place on 9 May 2015 at the University of Greenwich, and was supported by the Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation (CSPR) and the Faculty of Education and Health, University of Greenwich. The conference organisers, Leticia Fernandez-Fontecha Rumeu and Mary Clare Martin, report that the conference aimed to stimulate interdisciplinary debate in relation to what can be learned from images and material objects about the subjective experience of being a child in the past. The papers represented a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, from history, anthropology, children’s literature, sociology and art history. Papers on material culture focused on paintings, photography, piggy banks, home movies, children’s magazines, toys and playgrounds and themes included the child as a scientific or economic object, visualising childhood, and children’s voices and agency. The conference was framed by two keynote lectures, and was otherwise structured in two parallel sessions. The opening keynote lecture, by Matthew Daniel Eddy of Durham University, focused on Scottish children’s writing during/after the Enlightenment, and was entitled ‘The Illusive Self? Finding the Child’s Voice in Diaries, Notebooks and Marginalia’. The conference closed with a keynote lecture by Suzanne Conway, an art historian, from Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, entitled ‘Anglo-Indian Children and their Ayahs: Imagery and Interpretation’, recently published in an edited volume by Shirleene Robinson and Simon Sleight (2015). At lunch delegates were able to enjoy a viewing of extracts from a film entitled ‘Multi-Cultural Toys’ recently made by the CSPR.

The Society’s eighth international conference, organised by Jane Eva Baxter, was hosted by DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, USA, and ran from the 11-13 September 2015. The theme of the conference was ‘The Ideal Child: Presentation, Representation, and Commemoration’. A thought-provoking keynote address by Kathy Kamp entitled ‘Raising Kids “Right”: Adults, Children, and the Things of Childhood’ took place on the first evening of the conference and set the tone for the following one and a half days of academic papers. Demand for presentation slots had been so high that it was necessary to start the day’s events at 8.20 am and run concurrent sessions to accommodate all thirty-seven presentations. The themes of the sessions on the first day comprised – ‘Representations of Children in Art, Artifact, and Literature’, ‘Death and Commemoration’, ‘Children at the Margins of Childhood Ideals’, ‘Childhood and Gender in Ancient Mesoamerica’, ‘Education, Child Care, Nationalism, and the Creation of Ideal Children’, ‘Cultural Discourses and the Negotiation of Ideal/Non-Ideal Childhoods’, ‘Games, Toys, and Material Cultures of Childhood’ and ‘American Childhoods of the 18th-20th Centuries’, with ‘Childhood Performed, Childhood Displayed’, ‘Children and the Embodiment of Social Ideals’ the sessions for day two. In total the conference had fifty attendees that originated from some eleven different countries. It was truly interdisciplinary and eight different traditional academic disciplines were represented. The breadth and diversity of papers presented and topics explored clearly demonstrated a huge appetite and interest in learning more about childhood in the past. Jane Eva and her team organised the conference in an exemplary manner and the entire proceedings ran incredibly smoothly. Delegates were made feel very welcome and the hospitality shown towards us was second to none – the conference dinner in Gino’s Restaurant afforded us the opportunity to savour real Chicago pizza which was enjoyed very much! Our sincere thanks go to Jane Eva for all the hard work she put into organising the conference and to De Paul University for supporting it. We look forward to a future SSCIP monograph on nineteenth-century childhoods that will be edited by Jane Eva, the idea for which germinated at the conference.

SSCIP supported a session entitled ‘Current Approaches to Archaeological Juvenile Burials’, organised by Melie le Roy and I as part of the twenty-first annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists which took place in Glasgow on the 2-5 September 2015. Papers from the session will form the basis for a future SSCIP monograph (see below). A session entitled ‘Children and Childhood’, which took place at the Society for Medieval Archaeology Student Colloquium which ran over the 11-19 November 2015 at the University of Sheffield was also sponsored by the Society.

2016 will be another action-packed year for the Society and the ninth SSCIP annual conference – organised this year by Rebecca Gowland – will take place on 20-22 September in Durham University. The conference will focus on an interdisciplinary exploration of family relationships through time. The Society will continue to support sessions with a focus on past childhood at a variety of conferences, including the annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists.

The Society’s monograph series, published by Oxbow Books, continues to flourish, and 2015 saw the publication of the fourth SSCIP monograph – Children, Spaces and Identity – and edited by Margarita Sánchez Romero, Eva Alarcón García and Gonzalo Aranda Jiménez. The next monograph in the series will be Archaeological Approaches to the Burials of Children edited by Melie Le Roy and I. Future volumes are also being planned on the themes of childhood and play, ancient Greek and Roman childhood, Egyptian childhood and nineteenth-century childhoods. Proposals for future monographs should be submitted to Sally Crawford, the General Editor of the monograph series, and details for submission may be found on the Society’s website.

Volume 9.1 commences with an invited contribution by Mark Golden inspired by the production in 2015 of a second, revised edition of his book – Children and Childhood in Classical Athens – which was first published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1990. This reflective piece provides a fascinating and personal review of how his interest in past childhood has spanned his entire academic career, from his undergraduate days to his retirement from teaching in the autumn of 2015. The article reviews the past twenty-five years of scholarship on the history of childhood in ancient Greece and Rome. He focuses particularly on three themes – the iconography of childhood, the archaeology of childhood and children’s agency – and discusses in a thought-provoking and engaging manner the developments that have been made within each of these topics.

The volume also includes three research papers. Jennifer D. Bengtson and Jodie A. O’Gorman focus on the findings derived from the burials of 143 juveniles from Morton Village and the associated Norris Farms #36 cemetery site in Fulton County, Illinois.

During the fourteenth century AD, an Oneota group (or groups) are known to have migrated into the Central Illinois River Valley, an area that had been occupied for hundreds of years by Middle Mississippian groups, and resulted in a unique blending of Oneota and Middle Mississippian cultural traits. Their paper examines the juvenile burials for the purposes of analysing community social relations and in particular how they relate to broader patterns of migration and identity (trans)formation. They investigate whether certain children, with a multi-ethnic identity in their mortuary signatures, may have been born into families with blended Oneota and Mississippian identities. They argue that the mortuary disposition of certain children might be viewed as an avenue for the symbolic expression of novel identity processes borne of unique Oneota and Mississippian interactions in the region. They stress the important role that children may well have played in the process of ethnogenic change and how they should be central to studies of past migration.

The paper by Merja Paksuniemi examines the nature of the education provided to boys’ by the Finnish Civil Guard during the Second World War. It reviews data garnered from a variety of historical sources and concludes that the organisation valued Finnish nationalism, Christianity, good manners and sporting accomplishments. An overview of its history is provided which examines the role its members played during the Second World War and discusses how it was forced to disband at the bequest of the victorious Soviet Union in 1944 following Finland’s defeat in the war. The paper also contextualizes the youth organisation through a comparison with similar groups that were founded elsewhere in Europe in the aftermath of the First World War.

In her paper, Crystal Dozier observes that the idea of gaining information about children’s activities through an examination of traditionally adult material culture is rarely explored in archaeological research. She notes the identification of children in the archaeological record is often restricted to material culture attributed specifically to them, such as toys and clothing. Using archaeological research conducted in Shabbona Grove, rural Illinois, USA, as a case study she demonstrates how a more nuanced interpretation of archaeological assemblages can yield evidence for children and their activities without need for child-specific material culture. The context of a concentration of rather idiosyncratic, non-child-specific artefacts was considered suggestive that the assemblage had been deliberately collected or curated by children. The people living at Shabbona Grove in the latter part of the twentieth century would have suffered from oppressive poverty and Dozier proposes that the objects may have been collected and hidden by a child, or children, as a form of coping mechanism or expression.

The journal ends with six book reviews compiled by Simon Mays. Two of the books largely focus on Mesoamerica – Traci Ardren’s investigation of social identities in the Classic Maya northern lowlands and Vera Tiesler’s study of artificial cranial modification. Reviews are also included of David Lancy’s cross-cultural text which focuses on the anthropology of childhood and Ville Vuolanto’s study of children and asceticism in later Roman times. Two of the books are edited volumes on medieval childhood (SSCIP monograph 3), and the work of Charles Dickens and ideas of nineteenth-century childhood respectively. Sincere thanks are due to all the contributors and reviewers whose invaluable support has enabled our journal to continue with its growth and development.


Robinson, S. and Sleight, S. (eds.) 2015. Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.