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Abstract or Description

This thesis analyzes juvenile court hearing transcripts from original case files of the Los Angeles Juvenile Court in 1920, paying special attention to cases involving a famous juvenile court “referee” (i.e., judge,) Miriam Van Waters. The 1920s was a particularly interesting time for adolescent girls, as industrialization led to increased personal freedom and the development of an active nightlife for youth. Adults were still very invested in maintaining traditional standards of morality for their daughters, however, and moral breaches were generally what girls were brought into juvenile court for: sex, curfew violation, disobeying guardians, etc. Van Waters would delve into the girls’ family life, psyche and aspirations in order to decide on a suitable place for the girl to be sent or whether to supervise the girl in her own home, on probation. My research focuses particularly on the transcripts of conversations between Van Waters, the girls, and her parents in order to understand how juvenile courts decided what to do with “delinquent” girls in the post-World War I period.


Advisor: Steven Schlossman

Department of History

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