Progressive-era activists claimed that poverty led to broken homes: Impoverished parents—particularly single mothers—were compelled to place children in the care of relatives or institutions. The 1910 census asked all ever-married women how many of their children were alive on the census date. Many women had “missing” children; they reported having more than were living with them. Nearly 25 percent of white single mothers and more than 30 percent of African-American single mothers under age thirty-five had missing children, many of them likely in substitute care. Sizable fractions of young African-American married mothers and remarried mothers of both races also had missing children. The data indicate that placing children in substitute care was associated with limited household resources but was also related to the migration patterns of the period.

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