History of Childhood and the Family

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
HIST 2231
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
HIST 2231 explores the lived experiences of children and youth in different times and places in the West, focusing in particular on North America from the early period of resettlement and colonization to the present day.
Major themes include: changing ideas about childhood and adolescence; the intersection of social class, religion, gender, ethnocultural identity, and ability with children’s experiences; the legal and institutional regulation of children and childhood; children, families and the worlds of work; children's popular and material culture; contemporary childhood and the diversity of family lives and experiences.
Course Content

A sample course outline would include the following topics.

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics.

  1. Introduction: Encountering the Histories of Childhood
  2. Children and Families in Pre-Industrial Societies
  3. Innocents and Savages: Children in the Age of Enlightenment
  4. The Age of the Nursery: Middle Class Families, Middle-Class Childhood
  5. Labouring Children, Working Families and Apprenticeships
  6. “Street Arabs” and Orphans: Children without Families
  7. Imperialism, Colonialism and the Cultures of Childhood
  8. Children and the City: The Age of Reform
  9. Flappers and Flaming Youth: The “Girl Problem” and The “Boy Problem”
  10. Suburbs and the Postwar Reconstruction of the Family
  11. Advising Parents: Experts and the Care of Children
  12. Never Trust Anyone Over Thirty: The Postwar World and Challenges to Authority
  13. The Cute and the Cool: Children’s Popular Culture in North America
  14. Children and Families in a Global World


Learning Activities

Classroom instruction will include both lectures and seminar discussions. Lectures will provide instruction on weekly topics with opportunities for student inquiry and discussion. Seminars will encourage active class participation in the analysis of assigned primary and secondary readings. Classroom instruction may also include facilitation of student-led projects, student presentations on specific readings and/or topics, and other types of student-led activities. Classroom instruction may also include tutorials and workshops on transferrable skills, including research methods, academic citation practice, and presentation skills.

Means of Assessment
Assessment will be in accordance with the Douglas College student evaluation policy. Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans.
Students will have opportunities to build and refine their research capacity and historical thinking skills through assessments appropriate to the level of the course. There will be at least three separate assessments, which may include a combination of midterm and final exams; research essays; primary document analysis assignments and essays; quizzes; map tests; in-class and online written assignments; seminar presentations; student assignment portfolios; group projects; creative projects; class participation.
The value of each assessment and evaluation, expressed as a percentage of the final grade, will be listed in the course outline distributed to students at the beginning of the term. Specific evaluation criteria will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

An example of one evaluation scheme:
Attendance, Participation, In-Class Activities 15%
Seminar Presentation 10%
Popular Culture Analyses 15%
Reading Notes 15%
Primary Source Analyses 25%
Research Project and Presentation 20%
Learning Outcomes
At the conclusion of the course, successful students will be able to demonstrate historical thinking skills, research skills, critical thinking skills and communication skills appropriate to the level of the course by:
  1. Locating, examining, assessing, and evaluating a range of primary sources and secondary scholarly literature critically and analytically (reading history).
  2. Constructing historical arguments, taking historical perspectives, and interpreting historical problems through different types of writing assignments of varying lengths (writing history).
  3. Participating in active and informed historical debate independently and cooperatively through classroom discussion and presentation (discussing history).
  4. Independently and cooperatively investigating the ways that history is created, preserved and disseminated through public memory and commemoration, oral history, community engagement, and other forms of popular visual and written expressions about the past (applying history.


Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Course Readers may be chosen from the following list, to be updated periodically.
An instructor’s custom Course Reader may be required. Additional online resources may also be assigned, and bibliographies of additional readings and links to specific resources may be provided in the course outline or online.

Comacchio, Cynthia R. The Infinite Bonds of Family: Domesticity in Canada, 1850-1940. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.
Cunningham, Hugh. Children and Childhood in Western Society Since 1500. 2nd ed. New York: Longman, 2005.
Gleason, Mona, and Tamara Myers, eds. Bringing Children and Youth Into Canadian History. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Heywood, Colin. A History of Childhood. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2001.
Illick, Joseph E. American Childhoods. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.
Mintz, Steven. Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood. New York: Belknap Press, 2004.
Sterns, Peter N. Childhood in World History. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2016.
Sutherland, Neil. Children in English-Canadian Society: Framing the Twentieth-Century Consensus. New ed. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2012.



One 1000-Level History Course or the permission of the instructor





Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for HIST 2231
Athabasca University (AU) AU HIST 3XX (3)
College of the Rockies (COTR) COTR HIST 2XX (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU HIST 2XXX (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG HIST 1155 (3)
Okanagan College (OC) OC HIST 2XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU HIST 2XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU HIST 2XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU HIST 2XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO HIST 2nd (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV HIST 2nd (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HIST 2XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV HIST 3XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC HSTR 2XX (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU HIST 2nd (3)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023