Date of Award

Spring 1989

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 1989 Elizabeth A. Silverberg. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department

First Advisor

Marjorie Murphy


With the help of Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children case records, Board Minutes, and Annual Reports, Silverberg explores the nature of incest in Victorian era Philadelphian working class families and the “childsaving” movement. She argues that the PSPCC’s agenda and conservative Victorian attitudes influenced their view and handling of incest cases in that era, resulting in fewer successful cases than abuses committed. She ties in secondary sources to give background on the child welfare campaign of the time, and contextualizes the working class incest cases within that movement.


Recipient of the Paul H. Beik Prize in History, awarded in 1989.