Religion, Law, and the Medical Neglect of Children in the United States, 1870–2000

'The Science of the Age'

  • Lynne Curry

Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood book series (PSHC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Lynne Curry
    Pages 1-11
  3. Lynne Curry
    Pages 13-34
  4. Lynne Curry
    Pages 35-58
  5. Lynne Curry
    Pages 59-82
  6. Lynne Curry
    Pages 83-105
  7. Lynne Curry
    Pages 131-153
  8. Lynne Curry
    Pages 155-177
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 179-197

About this book


Drawing upon a diverse range of archival evidence, medical treatises, religious texts, public discourses, and legal documents, this book examines the rich historical context in which controversies surrounding the medical neglect of children erupted onto the American scene. It argues that several nineteenth-century developments collided to produce the first criminal prosecutions of parents who rejected medical attendance as a tenet of their religious faith. A view of children as distinct biological beings with particularized needs for physical care had engendered both the new medical practice field of pediatrics and a vigorous child welfare movement that forced legislatures and courts to reconsider public and private responsibility for ensuring children’s physical  well-being. At the same time, a number of healing religions had emerged to challenge the growing authority of medical doctors and the appropriate role of the state in the realm of child welfare. The rapid proliferation of the new healing churches, and the mixed outcomes of parents’ criminal trials, reflected ongoing uneasiness about the increasing presence of science in American life.


Scientific Materialism Pediatrics Child Welfare Movement Family Courts Healing Religions

Authors and affiliations

  • Lynne Curry
    • 1
  1. 1.Eastern Illinois UniversityCharlestonUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-24688-4
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-24689-1
  • Buy this book on publisher's site