I am writing a book on the history of babies in the twentieth-century United States. This project has been both fun and challenging. I’ve enjoyed watching silent films about babies (housed at the Library of Congress), examining advertisements for baby products (housed at Duke University), and I have gained fascinating insights from reading an enormous collection of baby books kept by mothers (housed at UCLA). I’ve also had to read about deaths and illnesses, and some very odd folk remedies. I am trying to assess why our collective interest in infant welfare declined over the twentieth century, and to describe how the lived experiences of babies as recorded in baby books and other first-hand accounts reflected both the growth of consumer culture and advances in medicine.
When I first began this research I received support from the Rutgers Research Council. Thanks to their early investment in my work, Duke University, the Schlesinger Library of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies and UCLA awarded me grants. I then received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a competitive fellowship leave from Rutgers-Camden that enabled me to write the first chapters of this book and publish some articles. I bring the insights gleaned from my research into my teaching and will be offering a graduate course focused on children in youth in the postwar years in the fall of 2012.
In my twenty years as a member of the faculty, I’ve benefitted enormously from having intellectually engaged colleagues with whom I share my work, an outstanding library system and campus librarians, and students who have challenged me and enriched my sense of intellectual curiosity. One of the particular pleasures I’ve found in my current project is visiting the Columbia University Library and using materials supplied by the Curator of Manuscripts and University Archives. She is a graduate of our master’s program in American History and typifies the connections between research and teaching that top research universities foster.
About Dr. Janet Golden
Name: Dr. Janet Golden
Rank: Professor of History