Child Study Association of America

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CSAA promoted understanding of child development and better parent-child relationships by introducing and interpreting the findings of psychiatry, psychology, and sociology in a form that is useful for parents and others who work with children.

From the description of Child Study Association of America records, supplement 2, [microform] 1890-1930, (bulk 1890-1900; 1920-1930). (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 63285787

From the description of Child Study Association of America records, supplement, 1908-1972, (bulk 1955-1970). (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 63300125

From the description of Child Study Association of America records, 1890-1965 (bulk 1928-1960). (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 63313504

The Child Study Association of America (CSAA) grew out of the Society for the Study of Child Nature, which was formed in 1888. In 1908, the society was renamed the Federation for Child Study and began to more actively disseminate child development information. During the 1920s, grants from the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial Fund enabled the federation to expand its programs. The organization was formally incorporated and renamed Child Study Association of America in 1924. CSAA continued to provide parental education and consultation services on child development topics through the 1960s, when it began to shift its emphasis to professional training. By the 1970s, CSAA focused almost entirely on training programs for child welfare, child health, and education professionals. A series of mergers and continuing financial difficulties during the 1970s and 1980s, led to the gradual dissolution of the association.

The Society for the Study of Child Nature, was formed in 1888 by five women in order to study children from "the mental, moral and physical view points." At a time when there was little authoritative information about child development, the group drew upon the works of philosophers such as Plato, Rousseau, Spencer, and Adler. Later, the society also studied education and psychology pioneers, including Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori, Granville Stanley Hall, and Havelock Ellis. In 1908, the society was renamed the Federation for Child Study to reflect its desire to act as a central agency to facilitate understanding of child development, child rearing, and family life by sharing the experiences of small parent education groups across the country. The federation's study groups incorporated theories derived from modern psychiatry and psychology into their programs, becoming among the first organization to interpret these fields to American parents. The small study group remained central to CSAA's methodology throughout its history. During the 1920s, grants from the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial Fund enabled the federation to expand its programs. The organization was formally incorporated and renamed Child Study Association of America in 1924.

The core of the Association's work was with parents enrolled in study groups under the leadership of a professionally trained staff member. According to the Association, its attitude toward parent education was "a common sense approach to the findings of science." The CSAA studied psychiatry, psychology, and sociology and interpreted "sound and useful" ideas for parents and professionals. In addition to study groups organized at CSAA headquarters in New York City and at private homes in the area, there were a number of groups associated with settlement houses, church and community groups, and housing developments in Harlem and in New York's lower east side. Study groups explored a range of topics including adolescence, discipline, children with physical or developmental disabilities, money, recreation, schools, sex education, sexual behavior, and techniques of leadership for parent education groups.

Another important aspect of the Association's work to disseminate child rearing information was the Program Advisory Service, formerly called the Speakers' Bureau. The service arranged lectures and radio broadcasts by CSAA staff; aided in the preparation of CSAA conferences and symposia; and counseled organizations throughout the United States in the planning of constructive parent-child programs.

The association established committees on children's art and literature. It also instituted bibliography, publications, and radio committees to produce educational and parenting resources. Involving a large number of volunteers, these committees reviewed books for children and adults, prepared exhibits and galleries, presented awards, and prepared materials for publication by CSAA.

In addition to books, manuals, and pamphlets, the CSAA published Child Study, a journal of parent education. In 1923, the association received a small grant from the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial Fund to support dissemination of current thinking and findings concerning child care and family life to member chapters. The result was an eight page mailing, the Federation for Child Study Bulletin, which two years later became the monthly, then quarterly, magazine Child Study . During the summer of 1960, CSAA suspended publication of the journal so that a broader program of publishing books, pamphlets, and leaflets could be instituted.

CSAA appears to have undergone an important shift in focus during the 1960s. Although CSAA continued to provide discussion groups and other programs delivered directly to parents and to publish resources on child development and family life, it increased its professional education and consultation services. It offered education and training programs and resources to professionals in fields related to children and families. It also offered program consultation to private and public agencies. These efforts included several national-level programs. For example, CSAA ran a five year training program through the United States Children's Bureau for nurses on working with expectant parents or parents of young children and a two year program for family case workers on reaching low income families that was sponsored by the Family Service Association of America. The association also provided curriculum and training in parent education and community action to family agency social workers as part of the OEO-funded Project Enable.

By the 1970s, the association was focusing almost entirely on training professionals who worked with families. A description of CSAA's programs from 1969-1970 stated that it was"primarily a training center for the staffs of public and private health, education, and welfare agencies directly serving parents, children, and communities." In 1967, CSAA began a program to provide parental involvement training to Head Start program staff from agencies in the Northeast (Head start regions I and II). Over the next few years, the program expanded to other regions. The training programs were designed to created a "core of well-trained parental involvement specialists" who would take over upon completion of the CSAA program. In 1969, CSAA also ran a program in the South Bronx area of New York City to train social workers, sociologists and doctors to educate parents regarding health services. Another program trained health department educators to work with para professionals who were recruited as part of a manpower training program. The association appears to have been hoping to develop into an accredited educational institution and was exploring steps necessary to achieve that goal. However, ongoing financial problems, including the termination of funding for CSAA to provide Head Start training, interfered with this goal and helped lead CSAA into a series of mergers that eventually resulted in the parceling out or cessation of all of its programs.

In 1972, CSAA formally dissolved and turned over all of its assets to Wel-Met, Inc. In 1973, CSAA merged with Wel-Met to form Child Study Association of America/Wel-Met. Wel-Met had been founded in 1935 by the Metropolitan League of Jewish Community Associations to operate summer camps for urban children. The new organization ran three camps and provided counseling and referral services. It also planned to provide adult education programs in the "moral, mental and physical training and up-brining of children," which appears to have been CSAA's contribution to the partnership. By 1977, CSAA/Wel-Met was plagued with financial problems, partly due to decreased participation in camping programs. The board decided to terminate operations and was exploring plans for handling the organization's remaining assets, including the formation of a capital preservation corporation. It is not clear what became of the plan or whether CSAA/Wel-Met continued to provide any services or simply existed as a corporate entity. However, CSAA/Wel-Met still existed in 1985, when it merged with Goddard-Riverside Community Center in New York. Goddard-Riverside does not appear to have continued CSAA's parent or professional education efforts, and the merger effectively marked the end of what remained of CSAA as a corporate body and the cessation of any of its original programs.

From the guide to the Child Study Association of America records, 1890-1972, (bulk 1928-1970), (University of Minnesota Libraries. Social Welfare History Archives [swha])

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Child Study Association of America. Child Study Association of America records, supplement, 1908-1972, (bulk 1955-1970). University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Child Study Association of America. Child Study Association of America records, 1890-1965 (bulk 1928-1960). University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Cooney, Barbara, 1917-2000. Read me more stories : production material. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn Goddard-Riverside Community Center Records, 1854-1994 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Milton Caniff Collection, 1805-2007, 1910-1988 The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
referencedIn Vera Zorina papers, 1910-2001 (inclusive), 1933-2001 (bulk). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Erickson, Phoebe, 1907-. Holiday storybook : production material. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn Friedan, Betty, 1921-2006. Papers, 1933-1985 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf University of California, Davis. Dept. of Human and Community Development. Department of Home Economics human development pamphlet collection 1940-1949. University of California, Davis, Shields Library
referencedIn Sex education pamphlets, 1914-1927. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Child Study Association of America records, 1890-1972, (bulk 1928-1970) University of Minnesota Libraries. Social Welfare History Archives. [swha]
creatorOf Child Study Association of America. Child Study Association of America records, supplement 2, [microform] 1890-1930, (bulk 1890-1900; 1920-1930). University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966. Papers, 1681-1966 (bulk 1900-1960) Houghton Library
creatorOf Child Study Association of America. Correspondence with Marian Anderson, 1959-1963. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966. William Ernest Hocking Papers, 1860-1979 Houghton Library
referencedIn Goddard-Riverside Community Center. Goddard-Riverside Community Center records, 1854-1994. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Betty Friedan person
associatedWith Cooney, Barbara, 1917-2000. person
associatedWith Erickson, Phoebe, 1907- person
associatedWith Evans, Polly. person
associatedWith Federation for Child Study (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Frank, Josette, 1893- person
correspondedWith Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966 person
associatedWith Goddard-Riverside Community Center. corporateBody
associatedWith Gruenberg, Sidonie Matsner, 1881- person
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
associatedWith Karelsen, Sylvie. person
associatedWith Milton Caniff person
associatedWith Rex, Jean G. person
associatedWith Society for the Study of Child Nature. corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, Davis. Dept. of Human and Community Development. corporateBody
associatedWith Whitehall, Jennie L. person
correspondedWith Zorina, Vera. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
Training of
United States
Subject
Child development--Study and teaching
Child psychology--Study and teaching--United States
Child development--Study and teaching--United States
Child care workers--United States
Child psychology--Study and teaching
African American parents--Study and teaching
Medical social work Study and teaching
Parent and child--Study and teaching--United States
Parenting--Study and teaching--United States
Parent and child--Study and teaching
Parenting--Study and teaching
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1890

Active 1930

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