Misconceptions: Unmarried Motherhood and the Ontario Children of Unmarried Parents Act, 1921 to 1969

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University of Toronto Press, 2007 - History - 258 pages
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In 1921, despite the passing of legislation intended to ease the consequences of illegitimacy for children (Children of Unmarried Parents Act), reformers in Ontario made no effort to improve the status of unwed mothers. Furthermore, the reforms that were passed served as models for legislation in other provinces and even in some American states, institutionalizing, in essence, the prejudices evident throughout. Until now, historians have not sufficiently studied these measures, resulting in the marginalization of unwed mothers as historical subjects. In Misconceptions, Lori Chambers seeks to redress this oversight.

By way of analysis and careful critique, Chambers shows that the solutions to unwed pregnancy promoted in the reforms of 1921 were themselves based upon misconceptions. The book also explores the experiences of unwed mothers who were subjected to the legislation of the time, thus shedding an invaluable light on these formerly ignored subjects. Ultimately, Misconceptions argues that child welfare measures which simultaneously seek to rescue children and punish errant women will not, and cannot, succeed in alleviating child or maternal poverty.

  

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Contents

Such a Program of Legislation Illegitimacy and Law Reform
14
Doubtful of Her Veracity Procedures and Judgment under the Children of Unmarried Parents Act
33
I Did Not Bring This Child into the World BY MYSELF Stories of Unwed Pregnancy
57
Best for Our Babies The Adoption Mandate
85
Haunted by Bills Lone Motherhood and Poverty
111
Known as MRS S Cohabitation and the Children of Unmarried Parents Act
140
Conclusions
167
Notes
171
Bibliography
221
Index
245
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About the author (2007)

Lori Chambers is an associate professor in the Department of Women?s Studies at Lakehead University.

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