A provocative re-examination of the ways private orphanages cared for children in need


Orphanages Reconsidered

Child Care Institutions in Progressive Era Baltimore

Nurith Zmora

paper EAN: 978-1-56639-465-9 (ISBN: 1-56639-465-1)
$24.95, Out of Stock Unavailable
cloth EAN: 978-1-56639-071-2 (ISBN: 1-56639-071-0)
$81.50, Nov 93, Out of Stock Unavailable
256 pp 6x9 8 tables

"In this important, revisionist study, Zmora uses rare manuscript institutional sources, published autobiographies, children's letters, and interviews to...persuasively argue that [20th century Baltimore orphanages] generally provided a physical, educational, vocational, and medical environment that was superior to that which the children would have experienced in their own families."

Countering the Dickensian stereotypes, Orphanages Reconsidered portrays how three private orphanages in Baltimore responded to the need of poor, single parents for boarding schools for their children. These innovative institutions also served as pivotal community forces, rebuilding families by providing vocational training, keeping siblings together, and encouraging orphans to maintain close ties with relatives.

Fastidious research shows how the institutions—Jewish, non-denominational Protestant, and Catholic—differed in their ethnic and religious priorities, their financial support, their staffing, and their relations with the community. Nurith Zmora embellishes her portraits with institutional records, letters from the children, and published autobiographies.


"Zmora paints a rich picture of Progressive era orphan policies and orphan life. Zmora successfully shows how vague Progressive pollicies worked on a local level among those whom the policies were meant to help...Zmora also builds a solid historiographical foundation on which others might stand."
Southern Historian

"Orphanages Reconsidered provides an exceptionally fine understanding of how several children's institutions actually functioned, and it treats those institutions with sensitivity and empathy.... The book is richly documented and benefits from a shrewd, judicious, and creative use of primary sources."
Leroy Ashby, Department of History, Washington State University


1. The Organization of the Orphanages
2. A Social Profile of the Children
3. Physical Conditions
4. The Children's Education
5. Social Life in the Orphanages
6. Life after the Orphanage
7. Discarding the Orphanages


About the Author(s)

Nurith Zmora is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Delaware.

Subject Categories

American Studies


© 2015 Temple University. All Rights Reserved. This page: http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/930_reg.html.