J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

“An especially clever piece” in Children of Colonial America

While preparing for a teachers’ workshop next week, I came across for the first time Judith Ridner’s review of Children in Colonial America, a volume edited by James Marten and Philip J. Greven, for the journal Pennsylvania History.

You’ll forgive me for quoting a passage:
The volume concludes with an especially clever piece by J. L. Bell about the politicization of youth in pre-Revolutionary Boston. Fifty-two percent of Boston’s population in 1765, he notes, were white youth under the age of sixteen (204). Yet, when scholars write of that city’s famous series of pre-revolutionary protests, they rarely acknowledge the unique contributions children and youths made to the crowd. Bell corrects that shortcoming. He describes the functions of Boston’s youth gangs and also analyzes the symbolic importance of eleven-year-old Christopher Seider at the Boston Massacre. For him, the actions of Boston’s youth demonstrate how the Revolution was about lived experience, not ideology.
That’s Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, 76 (2009), 379-80.

Ridner is now a professor of history at Mississippi State University and author most recently of The Scots Irish of Early Pennsylvania: A Varied People. I’m grateful for her kind words.


Anonymous said...

So you've been at this history work for more than ten years? Well done!

J. L. Bell said...

About twenty by now. The blog started in 2006, but I'd written articles and given talks before then.