Jonathan Zimmerman: America's Original Missing ChildRoundup: Historians' Take
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history at New York University and lives in Narberth. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1979, 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared on his way to school in New York. Last month, a fruitless search for Patz’s remains in a SoHo basement prompted a national wave of nostalgia for the innocent days of yore. For most of our history, we told ourselves, kids were safe. Then we lost Etan.
But we lost our innocence long before, with the 1874 kidnapping of 4-year-old Charley Ross right here in Philadelphia. That was when Americans discovered they could never keep their children completely safe. And we’ve been living with the consequences ever since....
Fifty years later, when Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold were arrested for abducting and murdering 14-year-old Bobby Franks in Chicago, a member of their defense team reported that Loeb had been inspired by “a crime that nobody could ever detect” — the kidnapping of Charley Ross. Eight years after that, when the aviator Charles Lindbergh’s infant son was abducted and killed, one newspaper ran reward posters for Charles Lindbergh Jr. and Charley Ross side by side.
“The men and women who were children in the days of the Charley Ross kidnapping can remember how their mothers warned them to stay in the house, never talk to strangers, and regard every old clothes man as a potential ogre who would carry them off and strangle them and cut them into little pieces,” the New Republic editorialized in 1932, a few days after the Lindbergh baby was found dead. “The Lindbergh case is likely to produce an even wider reaction.”...
comments powered by Disqus
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Humans Hard-Wired to Teach, Anthropologist Says
- Parents outraged after students shown ‘white guilt’ cartoon for Black History Month
- Maryland is once again considering retiring its state song
- One of the last remaining Nazis goes on trial in Germany
- Inside story finally told of the young US diplomat who cracked the case of the murder of 4 nuns in El Salvador in 1980
- Historian at the center of Sanders-Clinton debate
- James Loewen Says Additional Baltimore Confederate Statues Should be Removed
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- A historian’s advice to students thinking of getting a PhD in a tough economic climate
- German historian Heinz Richter cleared of charges