Axtell, James. The School Upon a Hill: Education and Society in Colonial New England. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974.
This study of colonial education examines how school, church, family and the greater community socialized children into society.
Avery, Gillian. Behold the Child: American Children and their Books, 1621-1922. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
The author argues that from the colonial period through the early 20th century, the role of children’s literature was not to entertain, but to teach cultural values and mold young minds. “Topics include the early days of colonial publishing, the defenders and detractors of Mother Goose, the influence of Sunday schools and tract societies, the "chaste eroticism" of romantic fiction for young readers, and changing notions of American heroes and heroines.”
Beales, Ross W., Jr., "In Search of the Historical Child: Miniature Adulthood and Youth in Colonial New England," American Quarterly, 27 (1975): 379-98.
Refutes the argument of other historians that children in colonial New England were treated as miniature adults, arguing instead that the colonists recognized distinct life stages of childhood and youth. His sources include colonial writers and ministers and the evidence of colonial laws, which specified milder punishments for the young.
Calvert, Karen. Children in the House: The Material Culture of Early Childhood, 1600-1800. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992.
This study uses material culture (portraits, furniture, clothing) to examine how children were treated in early America.
Demos, John P. A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.
This very readable book is an examination of early American family life, using Plymouth Colony as a case study. The author uses physical artifacts, probate records and official colony records to reconstruct family relationships and lifecycles in colonial New England.
Fass, Paula S. and Mary Ann Mason, eds. Childhood in America. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
This is a compilation of 180 documents including academic and popular primary and secondary sources (and also some pieces of fiction) about childhood in America throughout its history. Edited by a historian and a social worker.
Gildrie, Richard P. Salem, Massachusetts, 1626-1683: A Covenanted Community. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1975.
A good scholarly overview of Salem in the seventeenth century.
Greven, Philip. The Protestant Temperament: Patterns of Child-Rearing, Religious Experience, and the Self in Early America. Chicago: University Press of Chicago, 1977.
“Bringing together an extraordinary richness of evidence—from letters, diaries, and other intimate family records of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—Philip Greven explores the strikingly distinctive ways in which Protestant children were reared in America. In tracing the hidden continuities of religious experience, of attitudes toward God, children, the self, sexuality, pleasure, virtue, and achievement, Greven identifies three distinct Protestant temperaments prevailing among Americans at the time: the Evangelical, the Moderate, and the General.” – from University Press of Chicago Hawke, David Freeman. Everyday Life in Early America. New York: Perennial, 1988. A rich survey of how early Americans worked, played and lived.
Herndon, Ruth Wallis. Unwelcome Americans: Living on the Margin in Early New England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.
This is a fascinating history profiling 40 poor individuals in colonial Rhode Island who were “warned out” (required to leave) the towns in which they were living because they were not legal “inhabitants” and the towns refused to support them. The first chapter profiles mothers and children who were “warned out.”
Illick, Joseph E. American Childhoods. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.
This is a synthetic work, making the case for childhood(s) in the American past. He does a good job of summarizing the present state of the literature but has a much broader scope than early New England.
Jabour, Anya. Major Problems in the History of American Families and Children. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
An edited collection of primary and secondary sources relating to the history of childhood.
Levy, Barry. “Girls and Boys: Poor Children and the Labor Market in Colonial Massachusetts.”Pennsylvania History 1997 64(Special Issue): 287-307.
This article explores the market in child labor, particularly poor orphan child labor, in New England during the colonial period. The author presents evidence from several New England towns, including Salem, that child labor was one of the foundations of economic success for many families.
Main, Gloria L. Peoples of a Spacious Land: Families and Cultures in Colonial New England. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.
In this book, the author compares family life of white European settlers and Native Americans in southern New England in the colonial period. Chapters include those on fertility, child rearing and childhood.
Melish, Joanne Pope. Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998.
Melish studies the presence of slavery in New England, a part of New England history many would rather forget. Abolitionism is certainly a more noble story but the truth is many New Englander were a part of slavery either through ownership or through the provisioning trade to the slave plantations in West Indies. Her study is a little late for our purposes but it is one of the few books on African Americans in early New England and does have some mention of family life.
Mintz, Steven. Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004.
This history uses limited source material to examine the experiences of children in America from the colonial period through the 20th century.
Moran, Gerald F. and Maris A. Vinovskis. Religion, Family and the Life Course: Explorations in the Social History of Early America. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1992.
Nylander, Jane C. Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home, 1760-1860. Reissue Edition, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.
A series of excellent essays by Nylander, a museum curator and director, describing the customs, traditions, friends, families, and workloads of the "typical" New England household. Chapters on housework, seasons, clothing, food, and holidays document women's work at home.162 period illustrations enliven this useful and intimate study of New England domestic life.
Perley, Sidney. The History of Salem, Massachusetts. Salem, 1924-28.
This three volume set has very detailed information on early Salem and its residents.
Pollock, Linda. Forgotten Children: Parent-Child Relations from 1500 to 1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Pollock uses hundreds of diaries from 1500 to 1900 to construct a history of childhood, arguing that much about childrearing remained the same for 400 years.
Sweet, John Wood. Bodies Politic: Negotiating Race in the American North, 1730-1830. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.
Sweet tries to write the history of New England from a multicultural perspective. He focuses more on Rhode Island and takes the story beyond the colonial period, but it is the only work out there that tries to “decenter” the narrative of colonial New England away from the Puritans. It is very readable and full of good stories.