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Looking at The Western Home Monthly through Childhood Studies

Childhood Studies is a fairly new field, interdisciplinary in its nature and drawing participants from psychology, sociology, anthropology, literary studies, and the sciences, among other areas.[1] With the premise that better understanding the figure of the child in a culture is a method of better understanding that culture’s formations of agency and power, Childhood Studies is a discipline that examines conceptions of childhood across many cultures and historical eras. Whatever their field, practitioners of Childhood Studies acknowledge childhood as a social construction and work to discern the intersection between the lived lives of those persons biologically coded as children and the ways that cultures construct childhood to do specific work.[2] Childhood Studies explores how cultures conceive of childhood, how children are discussed and leveraged in politics and media, and further how all of these constructions create expectations for how actual children should behave and be treated. In particular, practitioners of Childhood Studies are deeply concerned with agency, considering how children as participants within their culture negotiate, defy, and/or comply with those expectations.

In her introduction to the collaborative, interdisciplinary text The Children’s Table, Anna Mae Duane uses her metaphor of the “children’s table” to encapsulate “the role childhood studies has played in the humanities. . . . Denied the good china, seated at a wobbly folding table, placed out of earshot of the juicy adult gossip, the guests at the children’s table know that they occupy a marginal space. . . . Yet, as in many marginalized spaces, there can be an intense sense of freedom and creativity precisely because one’s voice is out of earshot.”[3] This out-of-view children’s table is also an apt metaphor for the way that western culture has understood childhood since at least the mid-nineteenth century. We tend to understand children as neatly cordoned off from the adult world: children have their own literature, their own television networks, their own spaces (schools and daycares) in which to spend their days, even their own stores that cater to their particular perceived desires. All of this suggests that the children’s sphere is separate from the adult’s, though maintained by it, so that adults may freely navigate the rest of the world child-free.

Many scholars of Childhood Studies work to complicate this idea, discerning that conceptions of adult freedom, agency, and citizenship depend on definitions of childhood as the opposite: dependent, “passive, victimized, silent, and sheltered.” In other words, for adults to conceive of themselves as agential actors and “full citizen subjects,” they need the image of the helpless and innocent child against which to define themselves (Duane, The Children’s Table, 5). Childhood Studies seeks to work through this understanding that “adult” and “child” are diametrically opposed in order to discover how children are actually imbricated within the adult sphere (and vice versa), and to better understand how children function conceptually as the hinge upon which definitions of adult independence swing.

Reading The Western Home Monthly through Childhood Studies reveals that childhood is not separated from the adult sphere in this periodical space, but is instead a subject with which the text engages at length and in many different ways. Within WHM, children appear as a topic of adult discussion, as passive visualizations in advertisements, and as an audience of the magazine itself, directly addressed in advertisements as well as in their own discrete features. Understanding the role of childhood in this magazine allows us to discern how early-twentieth-century Canadians understood children and their role in the home and society, and thus how this society constructed and naturalized systems of power, authority, and dependency.

Content “For the Little Folks”

In order to gain insight into these areas, though, we must first explore methods that allow us to see how the magazine itself defines childhood. Methods for reading The Western Home Monthly in service of Childhood Studies require unique attention to both words and illustration, text and subtext in order to flesh out how, precisely, the texts hails, discusses, or portrays children. Methodologically, the first approach is to understand how the magazine marks certain figures as childish. The magazine does this work most explicitly with words, drawing child reader attention to advertisements, articles, or stories by hailing them as “boys,” “girls,” “children,” and even cute monikers like “little folks.”[4] That WHM uses these words to draw child attention to certain aspects of the magazine suggests that the editors and other producers of the periodical understood children as part of a dual child/adult audience, not as part of a separate population of readers that required its own set of texts.[5]

Of course, while the magazine addresses children as a part of the readership, they are frequently marked as a distinct segment of that readership through the inclusion of reading sections just for them. The “Boys and Girls” and “For the Little Folks” sections in the November 1905 issue do this work, suggesting that while the magazine expects children to be members of the readership, it also assumes that they need or desire a particular literature penned just for them. These features of the magazine interestingly disappear from certain issues throughout The Western Home Monthly’s run, or reappear under another name in later years, becoming, for instance, “The Young People” around the 1910s and “Children’s Cozy Corner” in the 1920s. These changing titles could signal changing audiences, changing conceptions of who fits into that audience, or even changing perceptions of what kinds of media child audiences should read. Particularly interesting is that the magazine in November of 1905 is careful to include two “juvenile” sections, suggesting that the categories of “child” and “adult” were too simplistic for the WHM audience, and that this magazine understood its non-adult audience as necessarily further divided.

The “For the Little Folks” section tends to use story to instruct younger child readers on how to be “good” children. For example, this section in November of 1905 contains a story about a little girl who throws a stick so far and so frequently into the ocean for her dog, Trixy, that the animal pants, whines, and eventually disappears, leading the little girl to exclaim “’Oh, he’s drowned! I know he’s drowned, and it’s all our fault!’”[6] Luckily, Trixy lives up to his name and is merely hiding behind a sand dune, seeking rest. Eventually the girl finds her dog and all move on happily with their day, having learned a lesson about kindness to animals. While the child within this narrative is associated with joy and play, this piece is also worried that children may have a tendency towards cruelty and neglect when their own pleasure is at stake, suggesting that children are not the Romantic angels of Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” (“trailing clouds of glory” from heaven above), but are instead a bit selfish and neglectful, if well-meaning.[7] While children in these stories are coded as in need of lessons learned from adult intervention, there is an expectation that child readers will emote with the fictional child and learn the same lessons she does: to care for animals and consider the needs and desires of dependent creatures above their own pleasure. This suggests that while children needed to work to improve themselves, they were considered capable of change and self-reflection, aspects that credit them with some real autonomy.

The 1920s development of the “Children’s Cozy Corner,” directed by Bobby Burke, likewise provides an opportunity to note changes in the conception of childhood. While earlier children’s sections included mostly stories and poems, Burke’s “Cozy Corner” encouraged children to engage deeply with the magazine, providing instructions on collective activities that the readership could engage in on a monthly basis, such as crafts, letter writing campaigns (largely for pen pals) and competitions. This move to curate a more invested child readership reflects many adult aspects of the magazine, especially correspondence, which in The Western Home Monthly was frequently a method for adult readers to learn about and write to like-minded strangers across the Canadian landscape. In this later-year section children interacted with the magazine and each other in many of the same ways that adult readers were, suggesting that children were considered not merely listeners able to learn from others’ experiences (as in the story about Trixy the dog) but as active agents able to engage with their peers and the world around them. Noticing these kinds of developments in the magazine allows a reader to begin to make arguments about how understandings of children and their agency are changing over time.

The “Boys and Girls” section in the November 1905 speaks to a different audience than the “For the Little Folks” feature. This section is told in an editorial voice, potentially suggesting an older readership that does not require pet allegories to understand the advice given to them. This potentially older readership is also now split into genders, boys and girls instead of collective ungendered “little folks,” the precursors to the presumed men and women they will become. The section advocates to girls: “be not so unwise as to throw away your girlhood. Rob not yourself of this beautiful season, which, wisely spent, will brighten all your future life.”[8] It further includes advice to boys, saying that “No one can enjoy his own opportunities for happiness while he is envious of another’s” (48). This advice is prosaic and identifiably Christian, but interestingly—and unlike “For the Little Folks”—asks readers to carefully consider their future happiness. In warning readers not to be envious and not to “throw away [their] girlhood,” the section implies that it understands these readers as being at risk of precisely these weaknesses, suggesting that these readers are potentially wayward, impulsive, selfish, and in need of this constant reminder of the life well-lived in order to tame their baser desires. This conception of the reader as impetuous and reckless goes hand in hand with concepts of adolescence at the turn of the twentieth century, leading me to assume that the “Boys and Girls” section is written for adolescent readers of the magazine—a population that would have been considered no longer precisely children, but not yet full adults. Kent Baxter traces the development of adolescence as a distinct social construct to the late nineteenth century, noting that G. Stanley Hall only popularized the term “adolescence” in 1904.[9] Thus while The Western Home Monthly may have conceived of separately aged child audiences for their “Boys and Girls” and “For the Little Folks” sections and participated in a burgeoning conversation about adolescence, they had not yet adopted the language  that we would recognize today.

A focus on how The Western Home Monthly maintains this separation between the needs of younger children and adolescents across time can provide insight into how the category of adolescence developed in the early twentieth century. In the 1911 November issue, for instance, the section for adolescent readers (now noticeably un-gendered and entitled “Young People”) features a story about “Little Gertrude,” who, at ten years of age, is roughly abducted by a Russian man who carries her across Europe and America and forces her to sing for money.[10] At the end of the tale Gertrude returns home, now “a graceful-looking young lady” and a successful singer able to support her long-lost parents (71). The story, like many others included in the “Young People” sections in the 1910s and 1920s, features a positive and didactic glimpse into a young person’s first experiences of independence before they are settled in marriage and family life, suggesting that adhering to Christian values—chastity, kindness, meekness, parental obedience, and hard work—leads to wealth and happiness. That these stories are told about and to adolescents—whom Hall in 1904 characterized as newly conscious of the “self,” delinquent, “crav[ing] strong feelings and new sensations” and intolerant of “monotony, routine, and detail”—suggests that the editors of The Western Home Monthly believed these were the sorts of stories that “young people” needed to hear.[11] 

A Promiscuous Child-Adult Audience

While the sections created specifically for a juvenile audience mark children and adolescents as a distinct readership with a particular set of needs, discourse about and portrayals of children appear elsewhere in the magazine, requiring a methodology of close looking to notice where and when children are elsewhere addressed or utilized. For instance, we continue to see adolescents marked as wayward and in need of adult intervention in a short article about the Ku Klux Klan in November of 1923, included not in the material created specifically for children, but in the heart of the magazine.

 The Ku-Klux-Klan,” Western Home Monthly, November 1923, 3.
Fig. 1. “Editorial: The Ku-Klux-Klan,” Western Home Monthly, November 1923, 3.

This short article begins: “If one did not know the American people, he might take some of them for a lot of ungovernable school boys, with strong passions, un-bound self-assurance, tendency to run in gangs, and fondness for the spectacular.” While this is meant as condemnation of the Ku Klux Klan, it is also a hearty condemnation of schoolboys, who the article suggests likewise need intervention and governance in order to protect their bodily safety, as well as the safety of the society as a whole. That this article presents itself as offering revelations about the Ku Klux Klan, but not schoolboys, suggests that this was a common understanding of what adolescent boys are like. Further, in comparing grown men engaged in systemic white supremacy and the violent murder of black Americans to schoolboys, this article uses the conception of adolescents as puerile to mark adult men as foolish, further entrenching the idea that childhood and adulthood are diametrically opposed; adult men who act like this can only be reductively described as “boys.” The article downplays the violence of Klan activities by describing the actions of the Klan as boyish pranks: after all, school boys generally grow up and mature out of these interests, and so, the article suggests, will Americans.

While reading narrowly for how children are directly hailed and discussed within the magazine may be a first step at reading through the lens of Childhood Studies, it is also important to read broadly across the magazine to look for illustrations and photographs that likewise reveal understandings of childhood, whether or not they speak directly to a child audience. Thus, when investigating The Western Home Monthly I look within individual magazines as well as across several years of issues to try to notice how visual portrayals of childhood persist or change.[12]

While the juvenile sections of the magazine work to identify children as a distinct audience with their own particular literary needs, we also see children co-addressed with adults in the very nameplate of The Western Home Monthly, which includes an idealized portrait of the imagined readerly family of the magazine and suggests that the child is a co-reader of the magazine (fig. 2).

Nameplate, Western Home Monthly, November 1905, 1.
Fig. 2. Nameplate, Western Home Monthly, November 1905, 1.

The parlor presented is clearly that of a middle-class white family with father, mother, and two daughters shown demonstrating their relationships to each other as well as to the magazine, which itself makes an appearance in father’s hands. Father, seated, is the primary reader of the text while mother, elegant and neat, reads over his shoulder, still able to give half of her attention to her two daughters playing on the floor. The family’s daughters and their mess of dolls and toys take up at least half of the scene, demonstrating that the parlor—frequently considered a space of adult refinement and conversation—has been commandeered, however temporarily, by children and their stuff. While the girls are consumed by their play, unlike father and mother who read, they are importantly still part of the scene: the girls are within earshot of father should he wish to read something to them or call them over to see a picture. The girls, this nameplate proclaims, are part of the audience, if a distracted part: it would have been just as easy (and perhaps more flattering to the adult readership) to imagine an attractive husband and wife reading together in their neat, fashionable parlor, children absent or tucked away in a playroom. Instead, the children are prominently—even obtrusively—part of the scene.

Beyond the children’s inclusion as members of the readership, the parlor scene emphasizes the influence of early twentieth-century capitalism on the family and gives insight into the child’s growing role as consumer. The scene in the nameplate is rife with dolls, furniture, flowers, and decorative items, demonstrating the expectation that middle-class life was one of consumption, and especially of buying toys for children. We see the child hailed as a consumer in many of the visuals of the magazine, especially in the advertisement pages, which invite the reader to fill their own parlor with the items presented, just like the family featured in the nameplate. Interestingly, the child is marked as the consumer of and subscriber to the magazine in early issues, as seen in Figure 3, which invites boys and girls to “secure The Western Home Monthly for the year 1904” by participating in a puzzle contest, effectively suggesting that boys and girls were encouraged to consider themselves as potential primary subscribers instead of their parents.

Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1903, 6.
Fig. 3. Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1903, 6.

As time passes, this hail to the child as subscription consumer dies away, but the magazine finds other ways to hail the child as the consumer of other objects, or even as salesman. The magazine is careful to prominently visualize several toys that children may find appealing, centered under the largely written and boldly placed title TOYS (fig. 4).

Hudson’s Bay, Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1905, 2.
Fig. 4. Hudson’s Bay, Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1905, 2.

The text size and white space utilized with this word make it obvious to child readers who may be likely to search for it within the magazine. While it is probable that adults would place eventual orders for these toys, the advertisement’s visual presence in the magazine hails the child reader as a consumer. In other words, not only are items created primarily for adult consumption (jewelry, gramophones) appealingly displayed on the page to catch the eye of the consumer, but so are children’s items: children’s eyes are appealed to here as well as those of adults. We see this vividly through the advertisement for a doll in the November 1905 issue, which reads: “GIRLS, shall we send you this magnificent doll?” (fig. 6). In thus hailing the child reader directly, the magazine clearly indicates that the ad is placed there specifically for child eyes.

The Colonial Art Co. Advertisement, Western Home Monthly November 1905, 19.
Fig. 5. The Colonial Art Co. Advertisement, Western Home Monthly November 1905, 19.
The Colonial Art Co. Advertisement, Western Home Monthly November 1905, 19.
Fig. 6. Enlargement of fig. 5.

This ad persists throughout the magazine, continually encouraging child readers throughout the years to sell post cards in order to earn this doll, or others like it, suggesting, as Paul B. Ringel notes, that “children’s active participation in commercial cultures of consumption and leisure was largely accepted in the United States by the eve of World War I.”[13] Interestingly, women were frequently hailed with the same lure, as seen in Figure 7, which presents an advertisement for an “enameled watch” to ladies who likewise sell pictures.

The Colonial Art Co. Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1903, 24.
Fig. 7. The Colonial Art Co. Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1903, 24.

These similarities suggest that children were identified as consumers and that the same techniques were used to draw both adult and child interest. This suggests that children were understood as able to respond to complicated visual and textual strategies that were also appropriate for adults. [14] It further suggests that as consumers, at least, children were put on equal footing with adults, complicating our Western conception of adults as agential and children as dependent.

Particular attention must be paid to advertisements that include images of children, sometimes in what seem like illogical (though charming) juxtapositions. These uses of the image of the child lean heavily on conceptions and connotations of childhood—innocence, truth, mischief, joy, pleasure—to sell a variety of products and lifestyles, and can reveal much about how childhood functions ideologically within a society. As much as children were advertised to within The Western Home Monthly, they were also complicatedly marked in advertisements as goods themselves, their attributes of innocence and joy available to be passively bought and sold. One of the most interesting aspects of the magazine is the frequency with which the child’s body visually appears throughout the text, so that in a methodology of flipping through the magazine and looking broadly at what is present on the page children pop forward at irregular intervals and draw the reader’s eye, often in order to sell a product. Take, for instance, the advertisement for “Laxa-Liver Pills” from the November 1905 issue (fig. 8).

Laxa-Liver Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1905, 37.
Fig. 8. Laxa-Liver Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1905, 37.

In this advertisement a little girl clutches a roll of Laxa-Liver tablets to her chest, pills that the advertisement suggests will help with sickness, headache, and constipation, among other ailments. The language within the advertisement does not suggest that these are childish illnesses; rather, they read as the sorts of ills likely to plague adults much more than children. So why is a child visually juxtaposed with the product? She is an appealing, well-dressed figure, with tumbling curls and a neat bow, but she does not look ill. Instead, she’s there, as in much advertising, to draw the consumer’s eye: Laxa-Liver doesn’t have much to visually recommend itself, but by linking the product with a pretty child the advertiser is able to draw the reader’s attention. Further, Laxa-Liver, which prides itself on the fact that it is “purely vegetable,” and that it will not “weaken or sicken” plays on childish connotations of purity and goodness to sell the medicine: as the child is pure and natural, so are the pills. Thus it is not only medicine that is for sale in this advertisement, but also this child’s appealing connection with innocence. While children are in many ways considered consumers in this text, they are also complicatedly for sale, available for purchase (at least in essence) through the purchase of goods like Laxa-Liver.

We see this practice continued throughout the magazine’s run, as in the 1908 advertisement for a “Winged Ball Bearing Washing Machine,” wherein a happy child is visually juxtaposed with an otherwise visually mundane household chore, appealing to childish joy and innocence to sell a product that, once again, has nothing, really, to do with children.

The Wingold Stove Co. Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1908, 27.
Fig. 9. The Wingold Stove Co. Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1908, 27.

In comparison, the 1908 advertisement for the “’Minnehaha’ Ball Bearing, Triple Action Washer” repeats the depiction of the washing machine with a person, but includes a woman instead of a child, thus appealing to a different set of values associated with womanhood (dependability, grace, productiveness) to sell a very similar machine.

J. H. Ashdown Hardware Co. Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1908, 53.
Fig. 10. J. H. Ashdown Hardware Co. Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1908, 53.
The Great Western Distributing Company Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1908, 60.
Fig. 11. The Great Western Distributing Company Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1908, 60.

The 1908 advertisement for an “Allen Portable Bath Apparatus” takes much the same tack as the Wingold washing machine, using the child’s visual appeal to sell a product that this time is barely visible within the photograph. This advertisement, however, doubles down on the child’s visual appeal by presenting a photograph of the child’s naked body as well as her smiling face. While the advertisement is indeed for a product that would be used to clean children’s bodies (though not exclusively—it would have been used to clean adult bodies as well) the advertisement foregrounds the child’s naked body and cheeky grin as the actual thing for sale: buying this bath, the advertisement suggests, will result in happy bath time with children. The advertisement objectifies the child to sell the portable bath and relies on conceptions of the child’s innocence and pre-sexual state to de-eroticize the image.[15]

We further see the child objectified and utilized to script adult anxiety within The Western Home Monthly, telling readers what, politically and socially, they should be worried about, as well as how to properly conduct themselves in response. Figure 12, from November 1911, suggests to readers that “Young Folks” are abandoning rural life for the excitement of the city, an act that threatens both the continuity of the family and the national future if no youth are left to inherit and work the farms that sustain Canadian life.

Cross Goulding & Skinner Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1911, 58.
Fig. 12. Cross Goulding & Skinner Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1911, 58.
Pyrene Manufacturing Company of Canada Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1923, 42.
Fig. 13. Pyrene Manufacturing Company of Canada Advertisement, Western Home Monthly, November 1923, 42.
Pyrene Manufacturing Company of Canada Advertisement, November 1923, 42.
Fig. 14. Pyrene Manufacturing Company of Canada Advertisement, November 1923, 42.

In saying that “The young people are leaving the farms because of the monotony and lack of diversion which makes life a drudge,” the advertisement hinges on the expectation of “Young Folks” to be impulsive, selfish, and pleasure-seeking, all words that recall Hall’s 1904 description of adolescence. The advertisement plays on these conceptions of reckless youth to sell pianos to parents desperate to keep their children home and away from the perceived dangers of the city. The advertisement in Figures 13 and 14 from 1923 likewise plays on maternal anxiety, depending on the story of a boy blinded in a fire and his dependent, pitiful cries of “Mother, it’s so dark!” to encourage women to buy fire extinguishers. Both of these advertisements present adolescents and children, respectively wayward and innocently dependent, in order to script adult anxiety and consumer behavior, encouraging adults to be conservative, dependable, and agential actors for their children’s safety and benefit—and further to buy the products that will enable them to embody that appropriate adult status.

In these advertisements, like many others throughout The Western Home Monthly’s run, children and adolescents are marked as the opposite of adult rationality and responsibility in order to prompt adult anxiety and consumer action. This is importantly different from how children and adolescents are portrayed in textual sections created specifically for them, which code these populations in some ways as capable of learning and self-care. The portrayal of children and childhood in The Western Home Monthly is thus at the very least complicated, negotiating between ideas of children as agential and dependent throughout the years of its publication, and indeed throughout even the pages of a single issue. Looking first for where and when the child appears in the magazine and then further seeking to understand how and to what end the child is employed allows us to understand how The Western Home Monthly provided a complicated, often contradictory script for the identities of its juvenile readers. This methodology also allows us to see how the child was objectified, used to sell goods, and further used as the dependent, innocent counterpoint to adult agency in the era in which this magazine was published. In looking for children in The Western Home Monthly, an eye to Childhood Studies reveals not only how children were expected to act, but further that these constructions of childhood—and the structures of agency and dependency built upon them—were far from simple.


[1] Martin Woodhead marks the beginning of Childhood Studies with James Sully’s Studies of Childhood in 1895 and then traces a cultural interest in the “nature” of childhood through developments in psychology in the early twentieth century through the 1970s with child-centered discourse in psychology, sociology, and anthropology (Martin Woodhead, “Childhood Studies: Past, Present, and Future,” in An Introduction to Childhood Studies, ed. Mary Jane Kehily, [New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009], 17–34, 18).

[2] Thomas Travisano defines Childhood Studies as a “field that concerns itself with the nature of childhood experience and with ways cultures construct and have constructed childhood.” While Childhood Studies draws interest from many different academic areas, Travisano identifies “the diverse ways that writers and other creative artists represent and have represented childhood” as ripe for analysis, including media made for both children and adults (Thomas Travisano, “Of Dialectic and Divided Consciousness: Intersections Between Children’s Literature and Childhood Studies,” Children’s Literature 28 [2000]: 22–29, 22). 

[3] Anna Mae Duane, introduction to The Children’s Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities, ed. Anna Mae Duane (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2013), 1–14, 1.

[4] Beverly Lyon Clark, Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Children’s Literature in America (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 157. While I here mark these words as signaling childhood, Clark reminds us that these phrases have been used to diminish the authority of certain populations: “I want us to think what it means when we use metaphors of immaturity to devalue something. . . . Not that I want to return to calling women, including traditional-age college students, ‘girls’; not that I want to call black men, including traditional-age college students, ‘boys.’ Given the way our culture currently constructs childhood, we cannot afford to call any adult a child” (Kiddie Lit, 4). While I do think that appeals to “boys” and “girls” in The Western Home Monthly does actually appeal to children, we cannot assume that this methodology will work in every text.

[5] Margaret R. Higonnet writes that the separation of children’s texts from adult texts plays a specific role in society: “First, it preserves a realm of purity, dependence, and ignorance; in turn, it also preserves the system of ‘high’ literature by fencing out the presocialized and subversive Other, marked by a subliterary verbal code and polluting didacticism; and it inscribes a myth of origins and integrity whose nostalgic appeal has, if anything, intensified in an age dominated by a philosophy of fragmentation and alienation” (“Critical Apertures,” Children’s Literature 17 [1985]: 143–150, 143).

[6] “For the Little Folks: Tricky Trixy,” Western Home Monthly, November 1905, 49.

[7] Many scholars, Humphrey Carpenter included, note that nineteenth-century conceptions of childhood fall along these Romantic lines. Western Home Monthly’s consistent worry that children may be unintentionally cruel to animals may serve as evidence that western conceptions of childhood may have been changing, or at least becoming more nuanced, as the nineteenth century turned to the twentieth. See Humphrey Carpenter, Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children’s Literature (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1995), 6–13.

[8] “Boys and Girls,” Western Home Monthly, November 1905, 48.

[9] See Kent Baxter, The Modern Age: Turn of the Century American Culture and the Invention of Adolescence (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008), 4.

[10] “Young People: Little Gertrude,” Western Home Monthly, November 1911, 70–71.

[11] G. Stanley Hall, Adolescence: Its Psychology and its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion, and Education (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1904), 314, 325, 368.

[12] One method of managing the expanse of a multi-year magazine like The Western Home Monthly is to read one issue from every year, as I have done for this piece. This does not give a full comprehension of the text, but when dealing with an archive of over 26,000 pages, it allows a reader to see the forest through the trees, as it were. This method of selective reading allows for a distanced perspective that reveals how trends change or develop over time that reading the minutia of the monthly magazine may disguise.

[13] We see this ad again in November 1903 (2, 20), October 1904 (27), November 1908 (18, 23), November 1909 (18, 24L, 55), November 1911 (70), November 1913 (68), November 1919 (38), November 1921 (44, 56), and November 1925 (95), among many others. See Paul B. Ringel, Commercializing Childhood: Children’s Magazines, Urban Gentility, and the Ideal of the Child Consumer in the United States, 1823–1918 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015), 4. While Ringel writes of the United States, The Western Home Monthly’s hail to the child as consumer suggests that this argument can extend to Canadian conceptions of childhood as well.

[14] This was a common method of advertisement, frequently inviting women, boys, and girls to sell cheap objects in exchange for premiums such as pictures, skates, guns, and furs. Men were less frequently addressed. See November 1903 (25–26), October 1904 (3), November 1909 (36), among many others throughout the magazine’s run.

[15] While the child’s perceived innocence works to de-eroticize the image, many scholars of Childhood Studies would argue that it is in itself still erotic. Imagine, for instance, an adolescent girl or a woman naked, in the same position, with the same smile: the pose and the situation are obviously erotic, but the presence of a child’s body allows the viewer to indulge in the image while denying that anything erotic is at hand. James Kincaid argues that “Our culture has enthusiastically sexualized the child while denying just as enthusiastically that it was doing any such thing” and that conceptions of innocence, especially sexual innocence, allow adults to continually eroticize and objectify children without slipping into the dangerous realm of pedophilia. The use of the naked child to sell a bath could be seen as an example of this (James Kincaid, Erotic Innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting [Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998], 13).