During the Black Death in 1348, parents in Florence, Italy deserted their sick children and siblings abandoned one another according to Giovanni Boccaccio. Challenging the descriptions of social chaos in Boccaccio’s The Decameron, however, are Florentine parents’ wills—revealing a commitment to the future of the family.
Understanding the role that children played in the past is the aim of Children and Youth in History, a new online resource that provides college and high school instructors and students with documentary materials and teaching methods:
The Primary Source Database includes hundreds of annotated sources that present contextual information, key themes and elements, and ideas for thinking critically about childhood in the past.
Teaching Modules provide instructors with background essays, relevant primary sources, teaching strategies, detailed lesson plans, and document-based questions.
Teaching Case Studies, focused on central issues in the history of young people, provide strategies for reading recursively and interrogating, corroborating, and contextualizing evidence.
Website Reviews include strategies for locating relevant resources, discussions of merits and limitations, and ideas for incorporating online resources into curricula.
Children and Youth in History is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and produced by the Center for History & New Media at George Mason University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
IMAGE: Holbein, Hans. “The Dance of Death.” Woodcut, before 1538. Facsimile, London, 1892.
IMAGE CAPTION: Children are not frequent subjects of medieval art, but the figure of the child does occur in a medieval artistic and literary form known as the Danse macabre or Dance of the Dead. Originating before 1348, this art form was not the result of the plague epidemics, but medieval artists found the iconic image a useful means to express the morbid and anxious views of death prevalent in the later medieval and early modern periods.