The Mary Ellen Wilson Child Abuse Case and the Beginning of Children's Rights in 19th Century America
As recently as 1874, no laws yet existed in the United States for the protection of children. That year, the widely publicized case of Mary Ellen Wilson - a nine-year-old girl who had been a prisoner in her tenement home, enduring unimaginable cruelty - drew national attention to child abuse and to the notion that children are entitlted to humane treatment. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) founder Henry Bergh and his attorney, Elbridge T. Gerry, intervened on behalf of the abused little girl.
This examination of the case begins with a look at Mary Ellen Wilson's life and the events surrounding the case. It draws upon, and reproduces, numerous primary sources. Mary Ellen's famous court testimony, queries urging Henry Bergh's ASPCA to continue work on behalf of children, articles describing the courtroom scene, pleas from Mary Ellen's family appealing for her custody and published documentation of the trial itself are all offered here for the first time.
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Foreword from the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Elbridge T Gerry III and Elbridge T Gerry Jr with Joseph Gleason
Americas First Abused Child
Mary Ellens Family
Henry Bergh Elbridge T Gerry and the ASPCA
Mr Bergh Wont You Help the Children?
Press Coverage April 10
Berghs Petition and Judge Lawrences Response
Testimony of Mary Connolly
Testimony of Alonzo S Evans
Testimony of Christian B McDougal
Testimonies of Thomas Dusenbury Charlotte Fiehling and Catherine Kemp
Testimonies of Mary Studer Margaret Bingham
Testimony of George Kellock
Where to Put the Child?
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