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ERIC Number: ED521548
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 509
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1241-0215-3
The Serpent in the Garden State: Juvenile Delinquency in 1920s New Jersey
Ferry, Thomas M.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick
School administrators, educators, psychologists, social workers, the juvenile courts, institutional reformers, and others shape the manner in which children are labeled, portrayed, and treated. However, the agendas, motivations, political language, and influence of these "helping professionals" in "treating" and "reforming" juvenile delinquents have rarely been scrutinized. Multiple other factors which contour the lives of so-called juvenile delinquents have also gone largely unexamined. These include: the context of the era; the importance of testing and measurement on delinquency; the consequences of labeling; the influence of the juvenile court; the motives and practices of the public school; the agendas of institutional reformers; and the current beliefs about cutting edge treatments. All of these factors collectively and concurrently shape the lives of so-called delinquent children. Because juvenile delinquency data are generally unreliable, inquiries other than quantitative studies are needed to advance knowledge about juvenile delinquency. Little new knowledge about the "causes" or "solutions" to the complex problem of juvenile delinquency have been offered in the last 90 years, and many practitioners who approach the modern day issue of juvenile delinquency fail to appreciate that the seemingly new problem is truly an old one with new contextual variations. In an attempt to address this problem, I answered the following question: how was juvenile delinquency defined, portrayed, and addressed by would-be-reformers in New Jersey during the 1920s? This historical dissertation was conducted using a "New History" perspective. By examining a myriad of intersecting histories with a fluid Venn diagram as a lens, this study reconstructed the history of juvenile delinquency in 1920s New Jersey. These histories included the context of the 1920s; the "political language" of the budding helping professions; the development of the New Jersey juvenile court; the role of New Jersey public schools during the Twenties; the development of the New Jersey Department of Institutions and Agencies, the State Home for Boys in Jamesburg, and The Training School at Vineland; and the deadly practices of Dr. Henry Cotton at the State Hospital in Trenton. By examining these disparate themes in isolation and subsequently formulating and developing theories on how they were interrelated or interdependent, I attempted to reconstruct the history of this topic. The examination of the definition, portrayal, and treatment of juvenile delinquency in 1920s New Jersey has hopefully provided a rich historical study of a problem that is seemingly unique to the present day. Current educators, educational administrators, and others concerned with the problem of juvenile delinquency should be able to use the framework of this dissertation as a lens through which they may examine juvenile delinquency from multiple vantage points and assess the manner in which delinquency is currently being defined, portrayed, and addressed. Modern educators and school administrators will hopefully examine the formal and informal labels they are currently affixing to individual and groups of children and contemplate how their personal, professional, and institutional efforts shape the fates of these students. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Jersey