Choosing to Care: A Century of Childcare and Social Reform in San Diego, 1850-1950

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Today’s families fret continuously about resolving family childcare and economic stress. Kyle Ciani’s saga describes a century’s progress in these concerns, zoning in on San Diego, representative of a city that underwent a substantial change in a growing, diverse population between 1850-1950. The need of ‘a resource needed by unstable families’ barely understates the situation when American Indians could become indentured servants in 1850, Mexicans came in to escape the Revolution in the early 20th century, and Chinese railroad workers, as well as African-Americans, were in need of homes and a means of supporting their families, protecting their children. Those living in the city coped as best they could until later court-appointed and professional assistance began to serve and, despite unwillingness to hand over their children to the care of others, provided a substantial measure of relief.

When psychologist G. Stanley Hall introduced the term and concept of adolescence in 1904 as a new stage of life, this was a milestone. Troubled and troublesome twelve to eighteen-year-olds who needed discrete attention were no longer viewed or punished as adults. Teenage boys who were labeled incorrigible, vicious, and uncontrollable and girls who were seen as rebellious and sexually promiscuous received much-needed guidance.

Subsequently, settlement homes were introduced, following a pattern already familiar in Chicago and Boston, and well-to-do ‘white’ women stepped up to fund, organize, and volunteer or take leadership staff positions.

Besides detailing the formal progression of social reform and childcare, Ciani has included case studies of individual children and families transforming an academic study into sympathetically readable urban history.

Reviewed By:

Author Kyle E. Ciani
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 342 pages
Publisher University of North Carolina Press
Publish Date 2019-10-01
ISBN 9781496214591 Buy this Book
Issue March 2020
Category History


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