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Child Study Association of America – Statement of Purpose 1913

Child Study Association of America

By: Jack Hansan

Introduction: The Child Study Association of America (CSAA) grew out of the Society for the Study of Child Nature, which was formed in 1888. In 1908, the society was renamed the Federation for Child Study and began to more actively disseminate child development information. During the 1920s, grants from the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial Fund enabled the federation to expand its programs. The organization was formally incorporated and renamed Child Study Association of America in 1924. CSAA continued to provide parental education and consultation services on child development topics through the 1960s, when it began to shift its emphasis to professional training. By the 1970s, CSAA focused almost entirely on training programs for child welfare, child health, and education professionals. A series of mergers and continuing financial difficulties during the 1970s and 1980s, led to the gradual dissolution of the association.

Early History: The Society for the Study of Child Nature, was formed in 1888 by five women in order to study children from “the mental, moral and physical view points.” At a time when there was little authoritative information about child development, the group drew upon the works of philosophers such as Plato, Rousseau, Spencer, and Adler. Later, the society also studied education and psychology pioneers, including Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori, Granville Stanley Hall, and Havelock Ellis. In 1908, the society was renamed the Federation for Child Study to reflect its desire to act as a central agency to facilitate understanding of child development, child rearing, and family life by sharing the experiences of small parent education groups across the country. The federation’s study groups incorporated theories derived from modern psychiatry and psychology into their programs, becoming among the first organization to interpret these fields to American parents. The small study group remained central to CSAA’s methodology throughout its history. During the 1920s, grants from the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial Fund enabled the federation to expand its programs. The organization was formally incorporated and renamed Child Study Association of America in 1924.

Below are the cover and three pages from the 1913 statement of purpose of the Federation for Child Study.

Source: Child Study Association of America Records. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Social Welfare History Archives. Minneapolis, MN: https://www.lib.umn.edu/swha

How to Cite this Article (APA Format): Hansan, J.E. (2013). Child Study Association of America. Retrieved [date accessed] from /?p=8917.

2 Replies to “Child Study Association of America – Statement of Purpose 1913”

  1. My grandmother, Maud R Hartman was an active member and on the board of Child Study (as we called it in the family) I of course, was given most of the books on their well known “booklist” their yearly compiled list of recommended children’s literature. Also I remember Bruno Bettelheim, who was ransomed by CSAA from Auswitz. My family supported the association until its dissolution. I’m grateful that Grandmama did not live to see its demise. She would have been heartbroken as she devoted her life to its work. It was such a privilege to have such a wise, avant-garde grandmother influencing my life.

    1. You are very fortunate to have been close to your grandmother and to share her history and books. If you ever desire to share your books or other related documents please consider donating them to the Social Welfare History Archives at the University of Minnesota Libraries. Warm regards, Jack Hansan

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