Title page for ETD etd-04272009-213906

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Coffman, Amy Virginia
Author's Email Address avc@vt.edu
URN etd-04272009-213906
Title "To the Memory of Sweet Infants": Eighteenth-Century Commemorations of Child Death in Tidewater, Virginia.
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jones, Kathleen W. Committee Chair
Ekirch, A. Roger Committee Member
Thorp, Daniel B. Committee Member
  • Virginia--Tidewater
  • society
  • mortality
  • infant; Childhood--eighteenth century
  • eighteenth century; Death--childhood
  • mortality
  • family
  • culture
Date of Defense 2009-04-23
Availability unrestricted
Life in the eighteenth-century Tidewater was set against the grim specter of death. Children were especially vulnerable, perishing with disheartening frequency throughout the century. Yet despite the high rates of child mortality, Tidewater culture underwent a revolution in regard to the eighteenth-century family. Children became the emotional focus of the family, becoming cherished for their youthful capering and playful nature. However, child death was no less common. The way in which parents coped with the death of a child changed throughout the century, reflecting the emotionalized understanding of children and childhood. The rituals surrounding the death of a child—from preparations for burial, the funeral, and lasting commemorations—evolved over the course of the eighteenth century, reflecting the new place of the child within the eighteenth-century family and the emotional trauma felt by the family after the death of a child.
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