Journal of Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research


Andrea de Melo


In an age when children were urged to be “seen and not heard,” some of the faint voices of children during the Civil War survived to give a picture of their lives. Children played many roles in the Civil War; some children became Civil War soldiers, while other children stayed home but never escaped the image of the brave examples of drummer boys embodied in countless poems, literature, and pictures. The children were part of a culture that devoured even the youngest citizens of the war-torn nation during the Civil War. Today through their writings and other primary documents, we know that children were aware of the events of the war. In fact, many of the ideals in a given group or side of the war were specifically included in children’s media in order to teach and inform children. These works for children give insight into the minds of what children may have experienced and provide understanding of what adults felt were the most important attitudes to emulate. In the majority of children’s literature, books, magazines, and toys, adults attempted to teach children about Civil War patriotism, social ideals, and stereotypes. Hence, attitudes toward the enemy, battle emulations and idealizations, patriotic attitudes, and stereotypes in children’s media and toys represent adult archetypes and larger societal ideals during the Civil War. While some Civil War scholars focus on the daily lives of child soldiers and those in direct contact with the war, this study will explore the attitudes, influences, and stereotypes in children’s media and toys during the Civil War. Media such as magazines, schoolbooks, literature, religious tracts, and adult periodicals offer evidence of the overlapping adult attitudes presented as social truths to children. I will analyze the overall theme in these works that portray attitudes about the war and different Civil War perspectives. In addition, this research will trace how views held by society during the Civil War became clear paradigms of the noble, patriotic, right and wrong, and good and bad in children’s works.