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‘The many lessons which the care of some gentle, loveable animal would give’: animals, pets, and emotions in children’s welfare institutions, 1870–1920

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Claudia Soares



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Taylor & Francis, 2021.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This article uses two of the largest children’s residential welfare institutions operating in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a lens through which to explore the significance of animals and pets in the domestic and familial life of poor children. Using institutional periodicals, the article examines how institutions employed animals as pedagogical and politicised tools to shape children’s emotions and behaviours and to construct idealised notions about family life and childhood. Examination of institutional photographs and children’s correspondence highlights how animals featured in the everyday lives of institutionalised children, and the meanings that young people invested in their relationships with these animals. By examining working-class children’s engagement with animals, the article makes an important contribution to the rapidly expanding scholarship exploring inter-species relationships in nineteenth-century Britain, which has hitherto largely focused on middle-class pet keeping. Meanwhile, consideration of the use of pets as pedagogical tools for poor children in the institutional setting has further implications for and makes new contributions to the history of emotions and the history of the family, providing new insight into the social, emotional and material experiences of childhood in the out-of-home and alternative ‘family’ setting.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Soares C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The History of the Family

Year: 2021

Volume: 26

Issue: 2

Pages: 236-265

Online publication date: 06/04/2021

Acceptance date: 01/02/2021

Date deposited: 17/01/2022

ISSN (print): 1081-602X

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5398

Publisher: Taylor & Francis


DOI: 10.1080/1081602X.2021.1897029


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