Abandoned Children: Foundlings and Child Welfare in Nineteenth-Century France

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SUNY Press, 1984 - Social Science - 357 pages
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In nineteenth-century France, parents abandoned their children in overwhelming numbers-up to 20 percent of live births in the Parisian area. The infants were left at state-run homes and were then transferred to rural wet nurses and foster parents. Their chances of survival were slim, but with alterations in state policy, economic and medical development, and changing attitudes toward children and the family, their chances had significantly improved by the end of the century.

Rachel Fuchs has drawn on newly discovered archival sources and previously untapped documents of the Paris foundling home in order to depict the actual conditions of abandoned children and to reveal the bureaucratic and political response. This study traces the evolution of French social policy from early attempts to limit welfare to later efforts to increase social programs and influence family life.

Abandoned Children illuminates in detail the family life of nineteenth-century French poor. It shows how French social policy with respect to abandoned children sought to create an economically useful and politically neutral underclass out of a segment of the population that might otherwise have been an economic drain and a potential political threat.
 

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Contents

Social Problems and Social Welfare Until the Restoration
1
The Eighteenth Century
9
Provisions For Care of Abandoned Children
13
State Assumption of Responsibility
16
Policies Codes and Decrees
19
Child Abandonment by 1815
25
Attitudes and Public Policy Toward the Family
28
Adoption Orphanages and Foster Parentage
29
Spreading the Wealth
155
Fiscal and Administrative Apparatus
156
Recruitment of Wet Nurses
163
Geographical Distribution of Wet Nurses
169
Transportation of Wet Nurses
177
The Wet Nurses Backgrounds
184
Objects of the System
189
Chez la Nourrice
192

Foundations of the System 18111830
33
Theory
34
Reality
40
Further Efforts to Restrain Abandonment 18501870
43
Beginning of Concern for the Children 18501870
46
Mothers and Children 18701904
49
Public Policy 18701904
57
Responsibility
59
Mothers and Their Babies
62
Their Age Sex and Legitimacy
64
The Effect of Rules and Regulations on Abandonment
79
The Mothers
86
Motives for Child Abandonment
95
Mothers Alternatives
102
How Mothers Abandoned their Children
107
Maternal Love
114
In the Hospice
117
Administration and Admission Procedures
118
Initial Care of the Children
122
Conditions in the Hospice
126
Infant Feeding
133
Death in the Hospice
141
Hospice to Hospital
148
Budgets not Babies
151
Enfants PerdusInfant Mortality
193
Effect of Travel on Mortality
205
Housing and Hygiene
206
Clothing
210
Attention and Neglect
216
Food
217
Improved Conditions
232
Survivors The Older Children and Young Adults
235
Parental Reclamation of the Children
236
Children and Young Adults with Their Foster Parents
240
Incurably Infirm or Disabled Children and Young Adults
243
Secular and Religious Education
250
Vocational Training Agricultural Labor and Apprenticeship
256
Military Service
260
Marriage
262
Deviant and Criminal Behavior
264
Bonds of Affection
271
General Conclusion
276
Decree of January 19 1811
282
Deliberation of January 25 1837
286
Notes
289
Bibliography
326
Index
350
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About the author (1984)

Rachel Ginnis Fuchs is Assistant Professor of History at Arizona State University.

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