Creating Religious Childhoods in Anglo-world and British Colonial Contexts, 1800-1950 is a new co-edited collection from Hugh Morrison (University of Otago College of Education), and Mary Clare Martin (Greenwich University, UK). 

This new book, published by Routledge, features children and religion in colonial society contexts such as New Zealand, and aims to develop greater understanding of religion as a critical element of modern children’s and young people’s history.

Mrs. Stevens and her probationers with the hospital baby

Arguing that religion was an abiding influence (positive, negative and benign) among British-world children throughout the nineteenth century and much of the twentieth, the book places ‘religion’ at the centre of analysis and discussion, while at the same time positioning the religious factor within a broader social and cultural framework.

Essays written by an international grouping of scholars focus on a range of geographical settings: America, Australia, Britain, Canada, Fiji, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the South Pacific. The various contexts within which religion shaped childhood in these settings – mission fields, churches, families, communities, institutions, camps, schools and youth movements – are treated as ‘sites’ in which religion contributed to identity formation, albeit in different ways relating to such factors as empire, nation, gender, race, disability and denomination. Chapters on New Zealand include: an examination of southern Dunedin’s religious identity; children’s religious literature published by A.H. & A.W. Reed; and the ways in which religious identity was conflated with civic qualities of sacrifice and service.