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Pre-school Childcare, 1939-2010

My new book based on this research project is now out!

Angela Davis, Pre-school Childcare, 1939-2010: Theory Practice and Experience (Manchester University Press, 2015)

Dr Angela Davis

What are the effects of childcare on children, mothers and society?

How have attitudes towards childcare changed?

In what ways have different ideas about children's wellbeing and development influenced the provision and organisation of childcare?

What can the history of childcare tell us about what is needed today? 

This research examines the history of the provision and practice of childcare in Britain, focusing on the years between 1939 and 2010. It will see how theories which developed during the war about the psychological harm caused by separating an infant from its mother influenced the provision of childcare outside the family in light of the social, economic and demographic changes seen during the years that followed. Focusing on 4 different forms of childcare - day nurseries, nursery schools and classes, playgroups, and childminders - it will consider how both individual families and wider society managed the care of young children in the context of dramatic increases in the employment of married women. Through the use of oral history it will also examine the experiences and effects of care on those involved and the current policy implications raised. In order to see how the demand, type and availability of childcare varied in different localities 3 case studies will be employed - Coventry and Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Camden.


Conferences / Seminar Papers (selected)

Angela Davis (2013), 'Gradual Separations and Substitute Mothers: The Influence of Anna Freud's Hampstead War Nurseries on Post-War British Childcare'; Psychoanalysis and History Seminar; IHR, London.

Angela Davis (2012), 'Excellent opportunities for detailed and unbroken observation of child-development' (Burlingham and Freud, 1943): British child psychology and the evacuation of children during World War Two'; Centre for Medical History Seminar Series; University of Exeter.

Angela Davis (2012), 'Evacuation is a story of tragedies' (D.W. Winnicott): World War Two and child psychology in Britain; Centre for History in Public Health Seminar Series; London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.







cover of book Pre-School Childcare, A Davis



Funded by

 The British Academy 2010-2013