Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Child Development

Abstract

Little literature exists that examines black people's efforts to educate their young children during the Progressive Era. It was the period in which early childhood education in the form of kindergarten began to flourish in the United States and around the world. Even in the abundance of literature about kindergarten's successes and its potential to transform impoverished families, the overwhelmingly poor black population remained invisible to the great majority of researchers writing about the progress of that movement.

Yet primary historical documents, such as the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (NACW) records, manuscripts, and Progressive Era newspapers, reveal that black women made tremendous contributions to the movement to meet the educational needs of children and families in their communities and to institutionalize kindergarten. This research will center on the black kindergarten movement through the work of two important advocates Mary Church Terrell and Josephine Silone Yates, who were the first two presidents of the National Association of Colored Women. The two women's writings will shed light on the conditions they expected kindergartens to address, how they planned to go about establishing kindergartens for poor black children, and why they thought kindergarten, in particular, would be especially beneficial to black children and families.

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