On This Day in IUPUI History: March 30, 1978

March 30, 1978. 

On this day, the Childhood in American Life conference commenced at the Stouffer's Hotel in Indianapolis. The three-day conference, held during the International Year of the Child, was a major gathering of scholars across many disciplines to examine the lives of children in the United States through history and ways to ameliorate conditions for current children. On the program were papers about childhood in rural and urban America; in different types of families; in fiction, and in other settings.

The conference, cosponsored by the IUPUI Center for American Studies and the Indianapolis Children's Museum, also involved significant input from community leaders and local specialists from diverse fields to amplify or explain points and lead discussion.

The keynote speaker was Harvard University Professor and psychiatrist Robert Coles, whose book series, Children of Crisis, had won the Pulitzer Prize. He urged the 700 attenders to credit children with the ability to observe right and wrong around them. "Children haven't yet learned to make the justifications and self-serving judgments" that their elders have, he said.

The conference brought significant attention to IUPUI and the Children's Museum. Additionally, during the spring 1978 semester the IUPUI School of Liberal Arts and IUPUI's Division of Continuing Studies offered a lecture series for both credit and for community members. Titled "A History of Childhood in American Life," faculty from several disciplines in Liberal Arts presented weekly lectures on topics such as "American Indian Childhood Experiences" and "Childhood in American Fiction and Films."

The Center later became the Institute for American Thought, an important adjunct of the School of Liberal Arts.

Childhood in American Life brochure, 1978

To learn more about the conference and others organized and hosted by IUPUI, consult records in IUPUI Special Collections and Archives speccoll@iupui.edu.


Updated Mar 30, 2019 by Editor Name Missing