“Little girls should never feed animals with any new food, without asking advice of those who are experienced.” Quote from Lydia Maria Child, “On Keeping Animals,” in The Little Girl’s Own Book (243); design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

In the coming weeks I am going to explore works by a pioneering American author, Lydia Maria Child (1802-1888), who wrote stories about the importance of treating animals humanely. I will explore her logic within the contexts of changing times. Child began her career during the 1820s, and was well established by the 1860s as an activist on many levels. She was invited to author the preface to Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl on 1861, and wrote pioneering pamphlets supporting the abolition of slavery and Native American rights. The designs will stylistically mimic embroidery designs.

1812 – The New York Tract Society was established.

1814 – The New England Tract Society was established.

1815 – The Hartford Evangelical Tract Society was established.

1817 – The Hartford Evangelical Tract Society, as a result of the Battle for Baltimore in 1814, published Happy Poverty, or, the Story of Poor Ellen. Funds raised from the sale of this tract supported the operations of the Baltimore General Dispensary that aided persons in distress.

1820s and 1830s – Epidemics of small pox, yellow fever, and diphtheria swept the United States.

1821 – The first American high school, established in Boston.

1823 – Clement Clark Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” changes perceptions of Christmas from a German holiday to a gift-giving occasion in the United States.

1825 – The American Tract Society was established.

1826 – German educator Friedrich Fröbel’s The Education of Man, encourages parents to install mobiles in cradles to insure “occupation for the senses and the mind” to foster early child development.

1826-1834 – Child established the Juvenile Miscellany as the first American children’s magazine. Child had to give up editorial control because her reform work with the abolition movement, and her liberal views on Native Americans became too controversial.

1827 – Peter Parley’s Tales of America by Samuel Goodrich (1793-1860) is published. Goodrich created his pseudonym from Hannah More’s tract called “Parley the Porter,” and his innovative benevolent narrator revolutionized the didactic and historic narrative style for children’s literature.

1829 – Child’s The Frugal Housewife published.

1830s – Jacob Abbott (1803-1879), a Congregational minister, begins his “Rollo” series of instructional books and William Holmes McGuffey (1800-1873) begins his series of “Eclectic Readers.” Both authors shape American consciousness with their packaging or literature that teaches morality.

1830 – Child established and edited M. of Lowell gets her story “Blind Susan, or, The Affectionate Family” published in Juvenile Miscellany. This story graphically describes medical treatments for vision loss resulting from scarlet fever.

1831 – Child’s Mother’s Book is published. It is an early American prescriptive book for rearing children and contains a story about a young mother that is abusive to a cat.

1833 – Girl’s Own Book is published

1832 – Jacob Abbott’s The Young Christian, or, A Familiar Illustration of Principles of Christian Duties is published.

1838 – The American Sunday-School Union publishes their Union Spelling Book.

1845 – Child’s most remembered poem, “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day” is published. It also appears in her Flowers for Children. II. For children from four to six years old. (New York: C.S. Francis & Co., 1845). Flowers for Children was published between 1844 and 1846.

1850 – Child’s translation of the German legend Rose Marian and the Flower Fairies is published. It is a transcendental romance about the death of an orphan.

1851-1852 – Harriet Beacher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published in serial form, initially a family story, it was quickly rewritten for children, and like Pilgrim’s Progress was published in “words of one syllable” to be used as a primer.

1853 – Child’s biography of Isaac Tatem Hopper (1771-1852), an American Quaker abolitionist is published. Child devotes a section about his youth utilizing his relationships with animals to show how his consciousness is expanded.

1855 – At the women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, N.Y., some women wear bloomers to draw attention to artificial distinctions created by restrictive clothing that limit daily physical activities for women.

1861-1865 – The American Civil War. The Little Pilgrim, a Northern Christian magazine for children is published.

1863 – Louisa May Alcott writes Hospital Sketches based upon her experiences as an Army nurse during the Civil War that leads to reform in military hospitals. This success paves the way for her to get Little Women published.

1865 – The United States establishes Christmas as a national holiday. With this shift, Americans begin the practice of exchanging handmade or inexpensive toys and gifts among a wide circle of acquaintances and charities.

1866 – The American Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals was established in New York City in 1866

1867 – Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were established in Buffalo, New York, Pennsylvania, and Montgomery, Ohio.

1867 – Horatio Alger Jr. gets Ragged Dick published.

1868 – “An Act for the more effectual prevention of cruelty to animals,” (AB 421) was introduced to the California Legislature on March 28, 1868, and approved. California Governor Haight signed the Act into law on March 30, 1868, and it took effect on June 1, 1868. The San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals was the sixth humane society to be formed in the United States and the first west of the Mississippi River after Massachusetts.

1870 – “Pansy” (Isabella MacDonald Alden, 1841-1930) publishes her most popular didactic novel for children called Esther Ried. Late in life she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area

1872 – Susan Coolidge (pseudonym for Sarah Chauncy Woolsey) published What Katy Did that became the first popular American children’s novel featuring a character with a spinal cord injury. The American Public Health Association is founded.

1873 – Mary Mapes Dodge becomes the editor of St. Nicholas magazine.

1874 – The Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is established in New York.

1883 – Kate Douglas Wiggin writes the Story of Patsy to raise funds and awareness for the Silver Street Kindergarten in a working-class San Francisco neighborhood.