Gateway to Justice: The Juvenile Court and Progressive Child Welfare in a Southern City

Front Cover
University of Georgia Press, 2005 - History - 209 pages
The Juvenile Court of Memphis, founded in 1910, directed delinquent and dependent children into a variety of private charitable organizations and public correctional facilities. Drawing on the court's case files and other primary sources, Jennifer Trost explains the complex interactions between parents, children, and welfare officials in the urban South.

Trost adds a personal dimension to her study by focusing on the people who appeared before the court-and not only on the legal specifics of their cases. Directed for thirty years by the charismatic and well-known chief judge Camille Kelley, the court was at once a traditional house of justice, a social services provider, an agent of state control, and a community-based mediator. Because the court saw boys and girls, blacks and whites, native Memphians and newly arrived residents with rural backgrounds, Trost is able to make subtle points about differences in these clients' experiences with the court.

Those differences, she shows, were defined by the mix of Progressive and traditional attitudes that the involved parties held toward issues of class, race, and gender. Trost's insights are all the more valuable because the Memphis court had a large African American clientele. In addition, the court's jurisdiction extended beyond children engaged in criminal or otherwise unacceptable conduct to include those who suffered from neglect, abuse, or poverty.

A work of legal history animated by questions more commonly posed by social historians, Gateway to Justice will engage anyone interested in how the early welfare state shaped, and was shaped by, tensions between public standards and private practices of parenting, sexuality, and race relations.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


ONE The City of Memphis and Progressive Social Reform
TWO Child Welfare and the Establishment of the Juvenile Court
THREE The Juvenile Court and the Progressive Child
Complainant against Dependent Children
Disposition for Dependent Children
Charges against Delinquent Girls
Complainant against Delinquent Girls
Charges against Delinquent Boys
Disposition for Delinquent Boys

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2005)

Jennifer Trost is an assistant professor of history at Saint Leo University.

Bibliographic information