Twin mothers with their newborn babies at Columbia Maternity Hospital, Washington, D.C., April 7th, 1939 (Library of Congress).

Mommy Dearest

A History of American Motherhood

Some say motherhood is the hardest job in the world; turns out, there’s a lot of history to back that up. In this Mother’s Day episode, the hosts explore the changing expectations of mothers over the centuries.

For most of American history, women were charged with raising productive citizens, even as they lacked the status of full citizens themselves. The hosts and their guests explore this paradox, looking to the ways that motherhood was used to enhance women’s claims to a say in society, and how the nature of mothering itself has changed over time. What has it meant to be a “good mom” in American history?

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