Historic Children's Voices Symposium

Thursday, May 2- Friday, May 3, 2024

American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609

Symposium logoThis symposium will convene fifteen emerging and established scholars whose work amplifies the voices of some nineteenth-century American children or explores the archival silences of underrepresented children. Recent scholarship in the fields of history, literary studies, and childhood studies shows that unearthing and understanding these voices brings forward nuanced and unique perspectives around the social and political concerns of the time.

The symposium corresponds with the launch of the Society’s new Historic Children’s Voices web resource. Digital versions of child-authored materials preserved at AAS will be made freely accessible and the site will feature more than 15,000 pages of content. Diaries and hand-written newspapers where children record the details of their daily lives, imaginative stories, and poems will be featured along with a selection of small-format, printed books made and published by children on home parlor presses. The contents of these materials and the panelists’ related research invite deep thinking about the value of children’s perspectives and the empowerment of children’s voices both in the past and today.

This two-day symposium will be hybrid.

Registration is required.


Thursday, May 2

  • 7:00 to 8:00 PM
    Keynote Address: Karen J. Sanchez-Eppler, Stanton Williams 1941 Professor of American Studies and English, Amherst College

    Karen Sánchez-Eppler is L. Stanton Williams 1941 Professor of American Studies and English at Amherst College, and was the 2020 Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American Antiquarian Society. She is the author of Touching Liberty: Abolition, Feminism, and the Politics of the Body (1993) and Dependent States: The Child’s Part in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (2005). Her scholarship has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Newberry Library, the Winterthur Library, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Fulbright Foundation. She is one of the founding coeditors of the Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and past president of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists.


Friday, May 3

  • 8:30 to 9:00 AM
    Coffee and pastry for in-person participants (Goddard-Daniels House 190 Salisbury Street)
  • 9:15 AM
    Welcome and Introductory Remarks
  • 9:30 to 11:00 AM
    Panel 1: Valuing Children’s Voices
    Panel Chair: Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Amherst College


    • Emily Bruce, Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota Morris
      “The Boundaries of Children’s Writing and Reading”
    • Emily Gowan, Lecturer on History and Literature, Harvard University
    • Mark Mattes, Assistant Professor of English, University of Louisville
      “The History of Writing in Children’s Handwritten Newspapers”
    • Elissa Myers, Marketing Coordinator, Newton Gresham Library, Sam Houston State University
  • 11:15 to 12:45 PM
    Panel 2: Archival Silences
    Panel Chair: Koritha Mitchell, Professor of English, Ohio State University and Visiting Professor of English at Boston University


    • Kabria Baumgartner, Dean’s Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies, Northeastern University
    • Jacqueline Emery, Chair and Associate Professor of English, SUNY Old Westbury
    • Wendy Raphael Roberts, Associate Professor of English, University at Albany, SUNY
      “If Silence Reigns, Let Harpocrates Live”: A New Manuscript Version of Phillis Wheatley (Peters’s) “On Virtue”
    • Nazera Sadiq Wright, Associate Professor of English, University of Kentucky
  • 12:45 to 2:00 PM
    Lunch for all in-person participants, Goddard-Daniels House, 190 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA
  • 2:15 to 2:45 PM
    Discussion of the Historic Children’s Voices project and new website resources with AAS curators Ashley Cataldo, Lauren B Hewes, and Laura Wasowicz
  • 2:45 to 4:00 PM
    Panel 3: Visual Culture of Children’s Production
    Panel Chair: Andrea Immel, Curator of the Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library


    • Sara R. Danger, Professor of English, Valparaiso University
      “Children Composing Themselves: Genre, Gender, and Invention”
    • Charline Jao, PhD candidate in Literatures in English, Cornell University
      “Mother’s Joys: Portraits of Childhood in Friendship Albums”
    • Shawna McDermott, Lecturer in American Literature, St. Andrews University
    4:15 to 5:45 PM
    Panel 4: Hearing the Child’s Voice
    Panel Chair: Laura Wasowicz, AAS Curator of Children’s Literature


    • Maureen Egan, Freelance Writer and Mary Eileen Fouratt, Consultant and Independent Scholar
      “Ruthy Henshaw: Words & Whimsy, 1789-1793”
    • Elise Leal Henreckson, Assistant Professor of History, Whitworth University
    • Katharine Kittredge, Professor of English, Ithaca College
      “’their particular property’: Thomas G. Condie Jr.’s Magazine for Children by Children”
    • Karah M. Mitchell, PhD candidate in English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      “Animals, Children, and Animating the Archive”
    6:00 to 7:00 PM
    Reception for in-person participants, Goddard-Daniels House, 190 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA



Registration is required. In-person registration includes Friday lunch and Friday evening reception.

Full symposium - In person - $35

Full symposium - Virtual - $15

Thursday Evening (Keynote only) - In person - Free

Thursday Evening (Keynote only) - Virtual - Free

Seal of the National Endowment for the HumanitiesThe symposium and the web resource are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in programs, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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