The State Wards

in The Unwanted Child

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226317274
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226317298 | DOI:
The State Wards

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter analyzes the story of orphaned twins who entered into governmental care at the age of nine. On March 7, 1647, nine-year-old twins named Eberhardt and Susanna Schier were admitted into the Nuremberg Findel. The two children had lost their father, Stephan, before they reached their first birthday and their recently deceased mother, Sibylla, had never remarried during the intervening years. All the Findel children shared the same unwanted status, at least in terms of the normal channels of child circulation, but each of their stories reflected a different subjective experience of life in the Findel. Records of some 3,600 children who crossed the Findel's threshold between 1560 and 1670 provide a statistical context for the twins' experiences and reveal patterns by age, gender, and the nature of admission. Statistical data can also reveal which characteristics gave a child a higher probability of survival and post-Findel productivity, but cannot predict whether individuals who fit into all the most favorable statistical categories would in fact live to see adulthood.

Keywords: orphans; twins; Nuremberg Findel; child circulation

Chapter.  18546 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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