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The origins and development of juvenile courts in the United States during the Progressive Era, c. 1870-1910

Clapp, EJ; (1991) The origins and development of juvenile courts in the United States during the Progressive Era, c. 1870-1910. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Several historians have studied the origins of the juvenile courts during the Progressive Era, but none has done so satisfactorily. By exploring the origins of these courts within the context of recent research on the history of the American family and the American woman, my thesis endeavours to give a new perspective to the question. The first juvenile court was established in Chicago on July I, 1899. Within a few months a similar court, but without the sanction of legislation, was established in Denver. The two courts had quite different origins, for while the Chicago court was the result of initiatives by women reformers, the Denver court was largely the work of its judge, Ben Lindsey. The women reformers saw juvenile delinquency as a symptom of a break-down in the working-class family due to the stresses of city life. In seeking to deal with this problem, they were prompted by their identification as mothers and their concern both to protect children from the miseries of the justice system and to ensure that they were treated as wayward children rather than as criminals. As a result their greatest emphasis was placed on the probation officer who was expected to help both the child and his family. Lindsey's approach, on the other hand, was much more child-centred, and less formal, emphasising the "personal touch" of the judge in 3 encouraging the child to do right. Other states soon adopted juvenile court legislation and an examination is made both of those courts, like Philadelphia and Indianapolis, that show marked parallels in their origins to those of the pioneer courts, and of the efforts of the Chicago and Denver reformers to secure a juvenile court law in every state. Finally, by examining the development of the Chicago and Denver courts, this study seeks to show how the values of the pioneers endured.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The origins and development of juvenile courts in the United States during the Progressive Era, c. 1870-1910
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10115544
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