About The Adoption History Project

Adoption is a significant public and private issue. This site is based on the conviction that history is an indispensable resource for understanding the personal, political, legal, social, scientific, and human dimensions of this particular form of kinship. The Adoption History Project is devoted to making adoption history accessible and interesting to visitors who may not be aware that adoption has a history at all.

This site introduces the history of child adoption in the United States by profiling people, organizations, topics, and studies that shaped adoption during the twentieth century. I hope individuals with personal or professional ties to adoption who are curious about adoption’s past will find the site relevant to their concerns. It is also intended for students and teachers interested in social welfare, the human sciences, and the history of children and families in the modern United States.

This site was created and is maintained by Ellen Herman in the Department of History at the University of Oregon. It was based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0094318. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The site has also received funding from Project ECHO, Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, and from the Viola W. Bernard Foundation.

Grateful acknowledgment to Dan Gilfillan and Devan Wardwell (University of Oregon, Center for the Study of Women in Society, Wired Humanities Project) for initial design and technical assistance and two graduate students in the University of Oregon Department of History, Shannon Parrot and Beatrice McKenzie, who worked as research assistants between 2001 and 2003. Christine Sundt, Curator of Visual Resources for the University of Oregon Library System, provided helpful advice. During winter 2003, undergraduates in HIST 365 tested the unfinished site. Their enthusiasm, questions, and suggestions made the site far better than it would otherwise have been. Several colleagues also graciously previewed the site, including Barbara Altmann, Wayne Carp, John Carson, Grant Conway, Dave Klaassen, Barbara Melosh, and Peggy Pascoe.

All of the text on this site was written by Ellen Herman and permission is required for its reproduction. Document excerpts and images have been drawn from a wide range of published and archival sources. I am grateful for permission to use them here.

The Adoption History Project is a work-in-progress rather than a comprehensive resource. It will continue to develop in the future.

  About the Author, Ellen Herman

As a faculty member in the Department of History at the University of Oregon, I teach courses on the modern United States. My interests include social engineering, the human sciences, and therapeutic culture. I am the author of The Romance of American Psychology: Political Culture in the Age of Experts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995) and Psychiatry, Psychology, and Homosexuality (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1995).

I have published a number of articles and a book about adoption during the twentieth century. Kinship by Design: A History of Adoption in the Modern United States (University of Chicago Press, 2008). My research in the field of adoption history has been supported by fellowships at Harvard Law School, Radicliffe's Bunting Institute, and by a major grant from the National Science Foundation.

The members of my immediate family—Gabriel, José, and Lynn—are just three of the reasons for this website. They have provided daily confirmation that kinship is as accidental and miraculous as it is deliberately created.

For more information about me, please consult my website.


Page Updated: 2-24-2012
Site designed by:

To learn more about The Adoption History Project, please contact Ellen Herman
Department of History, University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1288
(541) 346-3699
E-mail: adoption@uoregon.edu
About the Project and the Author
© Ellen Herman