Sparing the White Child: The Lessons of Uncle Tom's Cabin for Children in an Age of Segregation

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Children's editions of a popular novel inevitably rewrite the source, reworking it for new ends. Such revisions reflect contemporary notions about the uses of children's books and governing assumptions about what children are, want, or need. This essay explores the cultural significance of the Young Folks Uncle Tom's Cabin, a neglected turn-of-the-century children's edition of Stowe's novel, adapted by Grace Duffie Boylan with illustrations by Ike Morgan. First published in 1901, the book was reissued by a variety of publishers until as late as 1956. The Young Folks Uncle Tom's Cabin was radically different from the tale that adults wept over and children eagerly devoured when Stowe's novel first appeared. Editorial changes designed to adapt Uncle Tom's Cabin for "young folks" at the turn of the century imply a series of cultural transformations-altered racial politics, the consolidation of class divisions, increasingly rigid gender binaries, and mounting uncertainty about childhood in the wake of new theories and childrearing practices. Although the Young Folks Uncle Tom's Cabin reinforces the idea of childhood (for some) as a playful, separate sphere, it reflects contemporary anxieties both about race-relations and about what little white boys and girls are made of. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)58-85
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the history of childhood and youth
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


  • African Americans
  • Books
  • Children & youth
  • Childrens literature
  • Free enterprise
  • Novels
  • Race relations
  • Segregation
  • War


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