Habeas Corpus and Child Custody in the Late 19th Century in the U.S
Discovering how habeas corpus was used in child custody disputes in the 19th century.
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- [00:00:00.720]Um, my name is Jillian Fougeron I'm
currently a sophomore at UNL.
- [00:00:04.680]I'm studying psychology and
child, youth, and family studies.
- [00:00:09.510]I'm currently working with Dr. Katrina.
- [00:00:11.280]Jagodinsky our project focuses
on transcribing and encoding.
- [00:00:16.320]Thousands of habeas Corpus positions
filed from 1812 to 1924 and
- [00:00:21.210]six States in the American West.
- [00:00:24.930]We transcribed these documents because
often the handwriting's in cursive and it
- [00:00:29.700]can be hard to read
once we transcribe them.
- [00:00:32.340]We like to encode them and put in key
words, such as where the court was held,
- [00:00:38.310]what court decision was made
and who was involved during my
- [00:00:43.110]time researching with Katrina
Jagodinsky I decided to focus on
- [00:00:48.030]habeas Corpus and how it was
used in child custody decisions.
- [00:00:53.460]This is because of my
interest in child, youth,
- [00:00:55.530]and family studies in psychology.
- [00:00:57.780]Normally habeas Corpus is used the
challenge of rest or confinement,
- [00:01:02.010]but later on in 1867, it was also
used for interpersonal confinement.
- [00:01:07.350]In the late 19th century,
- [00:01:08.910]habeas Corpus was commonly used by
separated or divorced couples arguing over
- [00:01:13.800]their child's custody.
- [00:01:15.780]Many times it was actually used
after a child custody decision
- [00:01:20.760]had been reached,
- [00:01:22.020]but parents would disobey the court order
decision about their child's custody.
- [00:01:27.150]Often kidnapping the child.
- [00:01:30.690]It was also used to overturn
previous child custody decisions
- [00:01:36.360]and idea that I noticed when
doing research over habeas
Corpus and child custody
- [00:01:41.280]was the idea of parens patriae.
- [00:01:42.540]Parens Patriae betrayed translate
to state as parents and that,
- [00:01:46.210]and by the end of the 19th century,
- [00:01:48.360]they idea of the state being
responsible for children's sky rocketed.
- [00:01:52.590]The legal system became more
involved in child and family aspects,
- [00:01:57.810]which has previously been
private up until this point.
- [00:02:01.380]This progressive movement eventually
created the juvenile court system by the
- [00:02:04.890]early 20th century. Let's
see below all my poster.
- [00:02:09.840]I have two court cases that give insight
and how habeas Corpus and child custody
- [00:02:14.610]work together with the
aspect of parens patriae.
- [00:02:18.660]The first case we'll look at
is BM Klein versus Ella Klein,
- [00:02:23.490]eight 1887 in Seattle.
- [00:02:26.760]Eleanor Klein was Ellis
client's mother and
- [00:02:31.530]BM client's wife.
- [00:02:33.540]Her physician advised her to leave her
husband for the child's health and her
- [00:02:37.380]own health.
- [00:02:38.010]So she moved to the Seattle with her
child claiming she would return when her
- [00:02:41.610]health permitted be inclined, however,
filed for divorce against her,
- [00:02:46.260]instead of waiting for her to come back
and filed a petition for his daughter's
- [00:02:50.160]custody petitioning for her and her
rights to be taken away from her mother.
- [00:02:56.310]The court decided in the end to
grant custody, to grant custody,
- [00:03:00.580]to Eleanor because of
Ellis state of health,
- [00:03:03.490]the court claimed that the
child needed a mother's care.
- [00:03:07.000]A policy that became known as
tender years doctrine tender years
- [00:03:11.950]doctrine is a principle and family
law that started in the late 19th
- [00:03:18.670]It was the assumption that a mother
should have custody of a child during a
- [00:03:22.840]child's tenders years.
- [00:03:26.050]The next court document that we'll be
looking at is Mary Lefebvre versus T. Lefebvre
- [00:03:30.220]in 1888 in Seattle.
- [00:03:33.370]It started when Mary Lefebvre divorced
her husband T. Lefebvre due to his violent
- [00:03:37.990]behavior. The court decided because
of this man's violent behavior,
- [00:03:41.980]that she would have
custody of their child.
- [00:03:44.680]Mary moved out and gain
- [00:03:48.340]But while she was working
T. Lefebvre forcibly,
- [00:03:50.770]took their child and traveled around the
country with him so that they couldn't
- [00:03:54.820]be found.
- [00:03:56.320]Mary in turn filed a petition for
habeas Corpus to once again have
- [00:04:01.060]custody of her child.
- [00:04:02.530]The court decided that her ex husband
had to return the child to her.
- [00:04:08.020]This is a strong example of how habeas
Corpus was used to reinforce child
- [00:04:12.160]custody laws in the 19th century.
- [00:04:16.210]Both of these cases are important because
they give us insight on how divorce
- [00:04:20.320]and child custody was handled
in the 19th century before child
- [00:04:25.060]and divorce custody
laws have fully evolved.
- [00:04:28.300]It also gives us insight on how directly
involved the us court system has been
- [00:04:32.350]in family matters in child
welfare. During this era,
- [00:04:36.010]these cases also display on how the
idea of parents by trade started to
- [00:04:40.990]affect the court system and
reveal that family disputes are a
- [00:04:45.130]longstanding in American history.
- [00:04:47.200]Despite popular belief
with this information,
- [00:04:50.920]we can ask further questions such
as how did family law further evolve
- [00:04:55.990]after this period?
- [00:04:58.150]What were the determining factors for
the court deciding who was the best
- [00:05:01.420]guardian of the child? And did it
have anything to do with gender?
- [00:05:05.290]These are all things that we can
look into with this research.
- [00:05:10.180]I appreciate your time and your attention.
- [00:05:12.580]Thank you for listening
to my presentation.
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