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A Global History of Child Death

Mortality, Burial, and Parental Attitudes

Amy J. Catalano

Drawing from primary research studies in archaeology, historical analysis, literature, and art this interdisciplinary look at the history of child funerary practices and other vehicles of parental mourning is the only book of its kind. The purpose of this work is to investigate the ways in which funerary behaviors and grieving differ between cultures and across time; from prehistory to modern history. Philippe Aries, the French childhood historian, argued that children were rarely mourned upon their deaths as child death was a frequent and expected event, especially in the Middle Ages. This book draws upon archaeological reports, secondary data analysis, and analysis of literature, photography and artwork to refute, and in some cases support, Aries’s claim. Organized in two parts, Part One begins with a chapter on the causes of childhood mortality and the steps taken to prevent it, followed by chapters on prehistory, ancient civilizations, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and the early modern and late modern eras. The chapters in Part Two discuss indicators of parental concern at a child’s death: naming practices, replacement strategy, baptism, consolation literature, and artwork. Students who focus on the psychological aspects of death, funeral practices, and childhood histories will find this book a useful and comprehensive tool for examining how children have been mourned since prehistory.
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To my colleague Gloria Grant Roberson for the title, and for encouraging me to continue writing and researching. To my colleagues at Hofstra University in both the library and the School of Education for their support and kindness. To Lynne Catalano, Tony Catalano, Emily Schwartz, and Sophia Cianciulli who read various drafts of this work and provided valuable input. To my husband Jon for helping with the children and housework so that I could take time to work on this book. To Dr. Ben Potter who graciously offered me advice on terminology and earlier drafts of Chapter 2. To the chair of my department, Georgina Martorella, for her enthusiastic support.

Credit is due to the following for allowing me to reprint portions of poems:

Aaron Kramer, The Last Lullaby: Poetry from the Holocaust (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997), 34, 39. © SUP. Reproduced with Permission from the Publisher.

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