However harsh a child’s life might really have been in nineteenth-century America, the literature and art of the time depicted childhood as a world of charming Pollyanas or captivating Tom Sawyers. And the parent-child or grandparent-child relationship was tenderly recorded in countless pictures, such as the ones on these pages. The artists undoubtedly softened the reality, but it is true that Americans have always been extraordinarily concerned with the details of their children’s upbringing. Perhaps the lack of a servant class in America added to the closeness between children and the relatives who nurtured them. Perhaps, also, the energetic, underpopulated young nation was particulary aware that its boys and girls were its most essential natural resource.