The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s

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Ivan R. Dee, 2005 - History - 304 pages
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What was it like growing up in the Great Depression, and how did America's youngest citizens contribute to the history of that fateful decade? In The Greatest Generation Grows Up, Kriste Lindenmeyer shows that the experiences of depression-era children help us understand the course of the 1930s as well as the history of American childhood. For the first time, she notes, federal policy extended childhood dependence through the teen years while cultural changes reinforced this ideal of modern childhood. Grade-based grammar schools and high schools expanded rapidly, strengthening age-based distinctions among children and segregating them further from the world of adults. Radio broadcasters, filmmakers, and manufacturers began to market their products directly to children and teens, powerfully linking consumerism and modern childhood. In all, the thirties experience worked to confer greater identity on American children, and Ms. Lindenmeyer's story provides essential background for understanding the legacy of those men and women whom Tom Brokaw has called "America's greatest generation." While many children suffered terribly during these years-and are remembered vividly in the Farm Security Administration's stunning photographs of the era-Ms. Lindenmeyer argues that an exclusive focus on those who were ill-housed, ill-fed, and ill-clothed neglects the contributions and widely varied experiences of American youngsters. The decade's important changes touched the lives of all children and teenagers. By 1940, the image of an idyllic modern childhood had been strengthened in law and confirmed in culture by the depression years. With 21 black-and-white illustrations.

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About the author (2005)

Kriste Lindenmeyer teaches history at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, she has also written A Right to Childhood and edited Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives and Politics of Progress. She lives in Owings Mills, Maryland.

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