Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Historical Orphanage, 1749

Historical Orphanage, 1749

Historical Orphanage, 1749

This research unit is dedicated to the history of education, family, childhood and youth. Its in-depth research on past societies and cultures seeks to contribute to a critical understanding of present educational regimes and practices. Our researchers take a broad-based approach, connecting the fields of political, social and cultural history. Our interest lies in shifting ideas of childhood, youth and the family, in educational policy and institutions, and in cultural practices and the conceptions underlying them. In its thematic and theoretical diversity, our work helps build bridges between history and education.

While the central focus of our research is nineteenth- and twentieth-century German and European history, we are increasingly embarking on projects exploring global historical contexts. Work currently in progress includes research on childhood and education in authoritarian regimes; the history of the nature-nurture debate; changes in vocationally oriented secondary education  in the context of West Germany’s era of education reform; the construction and regulation of ‘childhood’ sexuality in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the increasing ubiquity of therapeutic knowledge and its use in family life and education; political education and democracy in West Germany after 1945; democratic reforms to schools in the Weimar Republic; and the history of adoption after 1945.