Nebraska Lecture to explore legacies of removing Native children

Margaret Jacobs
Margaret Jacobs

In the late 19th century, the U.S. and Australian governments established boarding schools to assimilate American Indian and aboriginal children into dominant culture. This practice forced tens of thousands of children to leave their families and abandon their customs, which has had lasting consequences on individuals and native cultures.

During the spring Nebraska Lecture today, history professor Margaret Jacobs will examine the origins, consequences and legacies of indigenous child removal in the United States and Australia.

The free public lecture, "A Battle for the Children: Indigenous Child Removal in the United States and Australia from 1880-1940," is at 3 p.m. in the Nebraska Union auditorium, with a reception and book signing following. The presentation is part of The Nebraska Lectures: Chancellor's Distinguished Lecture Series.

The lecture will be streamed live online at

"Officials and reformers in both countries touted their efforts as compassionate policies designed to give these children greater opportunities, but they often resorted to brutal methods to remove indigenous children from their families," said Jacobs, who also directs UNL's Women's and Gender Studies Program.

Jacobs' lecture builds on her book, "White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880-1940," for which she received the 2010 Bancroft Prize. Awarded by Columbia University, the prize is one of the highest honors for American history writing. The University of Nebraska Press published the award-winning book.

The Nebraska Lectures, which feature distinguished UNL faculty, are designed for general audiences and provide insights about some of the university's leading research, scholarly and creative activity. Jacobs' lecture is sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, UNL Research Council, Office of Research and Economic Development and Nebraska Humanities Council.

- Ashley Washburn, Research and Economic Development

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