Unmarried Mothers: A Comparative Analysis of Ninety-One Cases Known to the Bronx Office of Catholic Charities Family Service in 1952 and 1962
Background of the Study. The problem of unmarried motherhood has existed since the early history of mankind, Although the problem itself has remained unchanged through the centuries, public attitudes have varied from one historical period to another and from one culture to another. In endeavoring to comprehend why a problem of such duration remains an area of foremost concern to our modern society, it is necessary to understand and accept that our approaches and policies have been influenced and tempered by the general social and cultural attitudes prevalent throughout history. These attitudinal swings have been from the one extreme of overt condemnation of the unmarried mother as a transgressor of the social and moral canons, to the opposite extreme of sympathetic, sentimental acceptance of her as a victim of circumstances beyond her control. In retrospect we see that the services to the unmarried mother, as to the indigent, were based upon the belief that the problem was due to the absence of moral integrity within the individual. Therefore, the treatment was geared toward the punishment of the unmarried mother, who was often publicly whipped, imprisoned, or physically stigmatized. Such punitive treatment often resulted in concealment, abortion, abandonment, and infanticide. The acceptance of the problem as a social responsibility was only in the limited sense of its provision for the out-of-wedlock child. The general attitude that assistance rendered to the unmarried mother would serve to condone her sin and encourage immorality, restricted any direct services for her benefit. As social agencies have by no means been immune to the public attitudes, they have been slow in initiating programs to assist the unmarried mother. Historically speaking, interest in and services to the unmarried mother have been centered primarily on her child.
Womens studies|Social research|Individual & family studies|Social work
Brennan, Kathleen Ann, "Unmarried Mothers: A Comparative Analysis of Ninety-One Cases Known to the Bronx Office of Catholic Charities Family Service in 1952 and 1962" (1964). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30670810.