Out of the Darkness: The Story of Mary Ellen Wilson

Shelman, Eric A.; Lazoritz, Stephan

Published by Dolphin Moon Publishing, 2003
ISBN 10: 0966940016 / ISBN 13: 9780966940015
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Synopsis: In 1874, an amazing event took place. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) initiated the rescue of a severely abused child named Mary Ellen Wilson. Little Mary Ellen as she became known, was beaten, burned, and slashed with scissors, her brutal adoptive mother, Mary Connolly locking her indoors for over 7 years. Her rescue initiated the beginning of true child protection in this country, and eventually, the first child protection agency in America was formed, The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) Still in existence today, it is a testement to what caring individuals can do to change the world. Written in a dramatic format, it tells the story of Mary Ellen from her birth to her eventual rescue. This remains the only book on this fascinating case.

Review: Conventional child rearing in the wake of the Civil War could be aptly described as "spare the rod and spoil the child." Like slaves in the previous era, children were considered property, with no more rights than horses or dogs. With luck they were cared for and loved. Orphaned and raised in devastating poverty, young Mary Ellen Wilson was not so lucky. Out of the Darkness vividly details Mary Ellen's life as a captive in her Hell's Kitchen tenement. Left alone during the day to find her own playthings--a few strings and a pet spider named "Timmy"--the situation only became worse when her mother returned home to administer shockingly brutal daily beatings. More than a chronicle of one child's abuse, however, Out of the Darkness also documents her rescue--including the key role of the newly created American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. By drawing parallels between animal rights, Mary Ellen's case, and the end of slavery, Out of the Darkness illustrates how the end of the Civil War ushered in a profound shift in attitude--an acceptance that all living beings are capable of suffering and therefore deserve protection. This is a riveting read about a fascinating period. --Ginger Dzerk

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Title: Out of the Darkness: The Story of Mary Ellen...
Publisher: Dolphin Moon Publishing
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: New

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