The Lost Children of Wilder, book cover

The Lost Children of Wilder

Nina Bernstein

Nina Bernstein

















New York Times reporter Nina Bernstein discusses the origins of her ground-breaking book, The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care (2001) in an interview conducted by historian and PPMP contributor Kathleen Hulser. Bernstein first reported the story for New York Newsday during a long-standing legal case against the New York City foster care system centered on Shirley Wilder a troubled girl sent to the Hudson Girls Training School in the early 1970s. Bernstein reveals how preoccupied she became during ten years of research, tracing the cracks and weaknesses of the child welfare system and highlighting recurring cycles of failure and solution. Bernstein pursued the mystery of Shirley Wilder’s fate through the jungle of bureaucracy, lost paperwork and official stonewalling.

This is the first installment in a series of interviews about the fascinating tale of Shirley, her child and the system of gender and justice in the American child welfare game.

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Further Reading:

Bio of Justin Wise Polier, Author of A View From The Bench (1941)

Children, Race & Power (1999), David Rosner

Shirley Wilder Court Case, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit – 848 F.2d 1338 (1988)