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Kindheit und Jugend in der Neuzeit, 1500-1900. (Reviews).

Kindheit und Jugend in der Neuzeit, 1500-1900. Edited by Werner Buchholz (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2000. 330 pp.).

This book is a collection of twenty essays centered on the theme of childhood and education in Pomerania from 1500 to 1900. It is an important compilation because it illuminates a time and place in German history that has been geographically and academically remote from mainstream literature. The project was based at Greifswald University in the present state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. It is a multidisciplinary effort of contributors in the fields of history, geography, literature, pedagogy, science, and others. Kindheit und Jugend can be categorized as historical Landeskunde because it is local and regional in scope. Most of the essays are set in the early modern period when Pomerania was influenced by the Reformation and the territorial expansion of Sweden and Brandenburg-Prussia. Because the theme, childhood and youth, has potential to transcend administrative boundaries, there is opportunity for comparative perspective of topics such as early childhood education, political authority and education, orp hanages, religion and schools, teacher preparation, language instruction, influence of women's associations, sports training, health and illness, art, and the professionalization of pharmacology. A sampling of essays which demonstrate the strongest connection between education, religion, and politics is presented for amplification.

Werner Buchholz, editor of the volume, offers one of the best essays in the collection. He connected the establishment of Lutheranism and the development of a bureaucracy with confessional education. Using religion as an instrument of state-building is a fascinating concept, and one which fits nicely into the tension between Catholic imperialism and aristocratic particularism in the German lands. Because communities that adopted Lutheran reform moved quickly to abolish papal authority and Catholic education, the churches in the early years of the Reformation were concerned with confessionalizing the schools. In Pomerania, the sovereign urged the founding of the Landesuniversitat in Greifswald in 1539 and a Padagogium in Stettin in 1543. The purpose of both institutions was to build an educated evangelical elite to promote uniformity throughout the duchy. The historical depth of this study enriches our understanding of a region undergoing religious transition.

Hans-Uwe Lammel and Heinz-Peter Schmiedebach focus on orphanages in Stralsund between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. From the end of the sixteenth century, ordinances required elites to provide shelter, discipline, and training for homeless children. The regulations were designed to inspire social order and Christian morality. Children were removed from the streets, taught handicrafts, and infused with the religious values of Lutheranism. Charity was consistent with other efforts to effect confessionalization of education and services. Emphasis was placed on work training and low level skills to promote industriousness and volunteers from the community modeled the hierarchical family by serving as surrogate fathers and mothers.

Wlodzimierz Stepinski discusses the process of building national identity and state loyalty during the restoration when Western Pomerania came under Prussian rule in 1815. The author argues that education was used to erode Pomeranian particularism and regionalism, to produce new candidates for the Prussian bureaucracy, and to instill religious, cultural, and linguistic uniformity in the former Swedish province. To the classic Prussian Gymnasium was assigned the task of integration by educating upwardly mobile men for leadership in the national, centralized state. Political and social integration was not left to time and chance, and Stepinski captured the dynamic of Prussia's intentions.

In a well crafted essay, Irene Blechle discusses the intersection between politics and education at the time of Prussian annexation. The study references administrative transition, introduction of educational reform, reorganization of the school system, new methods for training teachers, and a brief, but clear description of the various kinds of schools in Greifswald. Of special interest is the author's treatment of the Industrieschule and the Kleinkinderschule. To teach order, discipline, and crafts, work schools included useable skills and basic education. Blechle adds an important dimension to early childhood training by connecting kindergartens with the efforts of women's groups Frauenvereine, infused with aristocratic and middle class maternalism and benevolence.

Insightfully the book identifies the close relationship between the Reformation, the institutionalization of Lutheranism, and the use of schools and universities to affirm and expand Protestantism. The church and civic authorities also sought social control, regulation of the poor, the needy, and marginal groups in order to bring important aspects of community life under religious influence. This theme is clear and one that is well explicated by several authors, but the effects of jurisdictional shifts due to war and military occupation require more assertive delineation as an equally important thematic construct. Between 1500 and 1900, Pomerania was subjected to significant political, territorial, and jurisdictional changes at the hands of its neighbors, Sweden and Brandenburg-Prussia. During the Thirty-Years War, the duchy was conquered and then divided between Sweden and Prussia into Eastern Pomerania and Western Pomerania, which was placed under Swedish rule. At the Congress of Vienna, all of Pomerania be came Prussian. Education from pre-school to university does not happen in a vacuum--history matters. Although Kind he it und Jugend is specialized and not really appropriate for a general audience, a concise overview in the introduction would orient readers to continuities and diversities over time. Two colorful foldout maps locate the various kinds of schools and universities in the sixteenth century, a time when the Baltic province was territorially intact. Additional maps might depict political variations over time. Historical context would act as an integrating element and analytical focus, thereby strengthening linkages among the essays.

The book successfully adds to German history by providing access to local, specialized sources in the former German Democratic Republic. Because most of the contributors ate located in Pomerania, their archival research and close reading of documents boost the volume's authenticity and illuminate the texture of Alltagsgeschichte. One can actually hear children playing in courtyards and feel the gloom of isolation wards in orphanages. Several essays contain quotations in Niederdeutsch, which reinforced localism and demonstrated the meaning and use of language among different social classes and at various levels of education. If these essays were published in journal format for a regional audience, then the scope would be appropriate. However, expressed in book form, the collection suffers from weak internal coherence and truncated reach. Local history need not be provincial. The editor's introductory remarks suggest that the volume is a mosaic, but regretably, in this case, the whole is not more than the sum o f its parts.
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Author:Bari, Barbara
Publication:Journal of Social History
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 2002
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