The Girls as Children

Thomas A. Robinson and Lanette D. Ruff

in Out of the Mouths of Babes

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199790876
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919192 | DOI:

Series: Religion in America

The Girls as Children

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Many of the girl evangelists started their careers early – some as young as three years old. This chapter examines the developing concept of childhood, a matter of considerable concern for social reformers of the period. In this environment, it was important for the girls and their handlers to present the girls as normal – though, clearly, many were quite isolated by their busy schedules (which included schooling) and by a protective support staff. For the girls involved in nightly evangelism, few friendships could develop with other children. Many reformers were promoting child labor laws, and sometimes the girls were the objects of concern in that regard. But no one seemed to express any interest in whether the siblings of the girl evangelists were having a normal childhood. The girls came from every level of society, though most were from Pentecostal traditions, and many scholars think Pentecostals were from the poorer elements of society.

Keywords: child labor laws; concepts of childhood; normal childhood; Pentecostalism; schooling

Chapter.  6201 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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