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Barnhem för flickor: Barn, familj och institutionsliv i Stockholm 1870-1920
Linköping University, The Tema Institute. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
1999 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Orphanages for Girls : Children, Families and Institutional Life in Stockholm 1870-1920 (English)
Abstract [en]

The overall objective of this study has been to analyse why there were far more orphanages for girls than for boys in Sweden at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

The study focuses on five orphanages for girls, all with the aim of bringing up girls to be servants. The study focuses especially on the City of Stockholms's Uppfostringsanstalt for flickor, which was run by the poor relief authorities but most other orphanages were run by philanthropic associations. The overarching question, how the interest in orphanages for girls can be explained, has been studied with regard to a) the ideas and motives of the founders, b) the girls' families and the parents' feelings towards orphanages and foster homes, c) institutional life and d) where the girls went after they left the orphanages. The sources have been worked through with the ambition to analyse the institutions from below and as far as possible from a child's perspective.

No state nor local legislation regulated institutions for dependent children and founders/boards could choose themselves which children to admit and make decisions on daily activities. The study shows that these possibilities together with the need of visibility to gain support from individuals influenced the interest in institutions for girls. Domestic work played an important role in the girls' lives and work could always be justified by the aim. In fact, the girls' work was necessary for the institutions to function. It also helped to cut down on the costs. The girls were generally employed in families of the same social class as those who gave support to the institutions. This was likely to have been important to gain further financial support.

The parents saw the orphanage as a way of retaining family ties by keeping the girls in close proximity in the urban environment. The city had in that context clear advantages over rural foster homes. The study also indicates that from a moral point of view the urban institutions represented a better alternative.

The gender structure of the time made girls into ideal objects of philanthropy in institutional care: a home was necessary for all children but for girls it was considered sufficient for both upbringing and education, whereas boys needed other activities: different types of workshops or farming. Girls' behaviour was also regarded as less troublesome than boys' and there was also a lack of servants. However, the institutions also created platforms for individual professional careers as teachers. The orphanages also had other functions, for example employment agency and as a source of economic support later in life for the girls.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholmia , 1999. , 400 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 188
, Monografier utgivna av Stockholms stad, 146
Keyword [en]
Orphanages, Dependent Children, Girls, Gender, Child Labour, Servants, History of Childhood, Philanthropy
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-32659Local ID: 18576ISBN: 91-7031-092-0OAI: diva2:253482
Public defence
1999-03-26, Wallenbergssalen, Östergötlands Länsmuseum, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2012-06-11Bibliographically approved

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Söderlind, Ingrid
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