Barbara Brenzel examines nineteenth-century juvenile reform policies by telling the story of Lancaster, a progressive reform school for girls in Massachusetts. Analyzing the efforts of reformers to socialize poor girls, many of whom were immigrants, she describes the contradictory dual purposes underlying these policies—fear and benevolence. The discussion of Lancaster illustrates how particular policies and programs for potentially deviant girls reflected nineteenth-century thought about reform, childhood,poverty, and especially the role of women in society.

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