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FAMILY LIFE STORY LINE
Opening   Gramma   Asaph after Ethel   Amanda Bell and Ethel Bertie

 

In the early 1900s, the nine Perrys lived in a house they own on East Main Street in downtown Canton. They are within walking distance to virtually everything they need. The oldest four children are in school and everyone is either literate or on their way to being literate. Asaph settled in as a barbershop owner and self employed dealer in retail groceries, getting occasional help from his brother Louis. Asaph also maintained a close relationship with another brother, Charles. In the first two decades of the 20th Century, the Perrys went about the regular routine of work, play, church, and visiting the relatives.

 

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Learning the Story

 

In this story line we would like to recommend two exercises which make use of a scholarly journal called the Journal of Social History. The first article is about family life in 1900s, but is offered to suggest a contrast between the Perry family and dual income earners in the early 20th Century. The article, titled "The Childhood We Have Lost: When Siblings Were Caregivers, 1900-1970" was published Fall 2002 and explores life for children who became care givers when they themselves were children. The full citation and abstract is below.

 

Pollack, Eunice G.
The Childhood We Have Lost: When Siblings Were Caregivers, 1900-1970
Journal of Social History - Volume 36, Number 1, Fall 2002, pp. 31-61

 

Abstract

In large numbers of working- and lower-middle-class households, for much of the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, children were generally cared for, not by a doting mother, but a sibling. Indeed, many children in these homes spent much of their youth caring for siblings or being attended by them. The demise of the system of sibling care represented a seismic shift in family arrangements. This essay examines the historical experiences and relationship of the sibling-caregiver and the charge, and traces the short- and long-term effects--often, the psychological scars--of each role. It considers why many of the young had highly ambivalent relations with their mothers in these years and perceived their mothers as unavailable to them. The study also explores why many mothers resisted any change in this family system. It compares the experience and effects of sibling care in the past with contemporary child care arrangements.

This article is available online via Project MUSE institutional subscriptions