1st Edition

Engaging Children in Vast Early America

Edited By Julia M. Gossard, Holly N.S. White Copyright 2025
    248 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    248 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Engaging Children in Vast Early America examines the often overlooked roles that children played in moments of contact between Indigenous groups, Europeans, and Africans in North and South America over the course of the seventeenth through nineteenth century.

    Adulthood is the default lens through which most of history is examined. This is because so few historians analyze the age or life stage of those they study. As a result, people of the past are often assumed to be adults when their actions or experiences align more closely with what modern society deems “adultlike.” Many of these “assumed adults,” however, were agentive children. This collaborative collection is the first of its kind to invite experts in the field of Vast Early America to engage with the history of childhood and youth. The result is nine innovative essays that expand our understanding of childhood and agentive children but also of empire and everyday life in Vast Early America.

    This accessible text is a unique resource for undergraduate courses in childhood and youth history, family history, and early American history.


    Julia M. Gossard and Holly N.S. White

    Section 1: Centering Unfree Children in Vast Early America

    1. Into the Household of Joseph Bigelow: Growing up Unfree in Colonial New England

    Caylin Carbonell

    2. Marronnage and Childhood in Colonial Haiti

    Crystal Nicole Eddins

    3. Capturing Youth: Reproductive Labor and the Medicalization of Black Girlhood in the Early Nineteenth-Century Spanish Caribbean

    Farren Yero

    Section 2: Uncovering Childhood in Native North America        

    4. “To Have Their Children Trained Up in English Schools”: Native American Childhood and Education in the Early American South

    Brooke M. Bauer

    5. A Mixture of Nations: English Captive Children and Food in the Eighteenth-Century Northeast

    Carla Cevasco

    6. “From Their Children Born and Those Yet in the Womb”: Children as Political Actors in Southeastern Native American Petitions, 1600–1730

    Bradley J. Dixon

    Section 3: Who Got to Be a Child in Vast Early America

    7. From Girls to Mothers: Children in French Canada

    Julia M. Gossard

    8. Children in the Margins: Enslaved Children in the Livingston Family Papers

    Nicole Saffold Maskiell

    9. Sending Children to Alta California: The Lorenzana and Híjar-Padrés Expeditions

    Ea Nicole Madrigal


    Julia M. Gossard is Associate Professor of History and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Utah State University. She is co-editor of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and the author of Young Subjects: Children, State-Building, and Social Reform in the Eighteenth-Century French World (2021).

    Holly N.S. White is an Adjunct Professor of History at William & Mary. She is co-editor of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth.