A Wealth of Fatherhood: Paternity in American Adoption Narratives Chapter uri icon


  • If early nineteenth-century American commentators believed that the orphaned, abandoned or deprived children of the poor needed employment to save them from their parents criminality or fecklessness, their early twentieth-century heirs increasingly contended that such children needed families. Although multiple methods of dealing with displaced children existed, including institutionalization, state-subsidized foster care, and forms of quasi-apprenticeship in which the child exchanged labour for room and board, eventually most social theorists and many lay persons agreed that adoption was the ideal. Between 1851 and 1929 every existing state enacted public adoption laws so that needy children might find homes.

author list (cited authors)

  • Nelson, C.

complete list of authors

  • Nelson, Claudia

editor list (cited editors)

  • Broughton, T. L., & Rogers, H.

Book Title

  • Gender and Fatherhood in the Nineteenth Century

publication date

  • February 2007