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“There are many spare places at the table of life” – A Global History of the British Child Emigration Society’s and the New York Children’s Aid Society’s Child Emigration Schemes in the Early Twentieth-Century (1890-1939)

Dates:
  • Mon 23 Sep 2019 15.00 - 17.00
  Add to Calendar 2019-09-23 15:00 2019-09-23 17:00 Europe/Paris “There are many spare places at the table of life” – A Global History of the British Child Emigration Society’s and the New York Children’s Aid Society’s Child Emigration Schemes in the Early Twentieth-Century (1890-1939)

“I counted the other day the little ones, up to ten years or so, in a Bayard Street tenement that for a yard has a triangular space in the centre with sides fourteen or fifteen feet long, just room enough for a row of ill-smelling closets at the base of the triangle and a hydrant at the apex. There was about as much light in this ‘yard’ as in the average cellar. I gave up my self-imposed task in despair when I had counted one hundred and twenty-eight in forty families. Thirteen I had missed, or not found in. Applying the average for the forty to the whole fifty-three, the house contained one hundred and seventy children. It is not the only time I have had to give up such census work. I have in mind an alley—an inlet rather to a row of rear tenements—that is either two or four feet wide according as the wall of the crazy old building that gives on it bulges out or in. I tried to count the children that swarmed there, but could not. Sometimes I have doubted that anybody knows just how many there are about.”
That is how Jacob Riis, a social reformer, journalist and documentary photographer, described the city slums of New York in 1890. He came to be known as one of the most influential investigators of the social conditions in New York.

Sala degli Stemmi 1st Floor, V.Sa. DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala degli Stemmi 1st Floor, V.Sa.

“I counted the other day the little ones, up to ten years or so, in a Bayard Street tenement that for a yard has a triangular space in the centre with sides fourteen or fifteen feet long, just room enough for a row of ill-smelling closets at the base of the triangle and a hydrant at the apex. There was about as much light in this ‘yard’ as in the average cellar. I gave up my self-imposed task in despair when I had counted one hundred and twenty-eight in forty families. Thirteen I had missed, or not found in. Applying the average for the forty to the whole fifty-three, the house contained one hundred and seventy children. It is not the only time I have had to give up such census work. I have in mind an alley—an inlet rather to a row of rear tenements—that is either two or four feet wide according as the wall of the crazy old building that gives on it bulges out or in. I tried to count the children that swarmed there, but could not. Sometimes I have doubted that anybody knows just how many there are about.”
That is how Jacob Riis, a social reformer, journalist and documentary photographer, described the city slums of New York in 1890. He came to be known as one of the most influential investigators of the social conditions in New York.


Location:
Sala degli Stemmi 1st Floor, V.Sa.

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Defendant:
Mairena Hirschberg (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Supervisor:
Prof. Laura Lee Downs

Examiner:
Pieter M. Judson (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
Paula S. Fass (University of California at Berkeley)
Veronique Mottier (Jesus College, University of Cambridge)
 
 

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