'What Else Could I Do?'

Single Mothers and Infanticide, Ireland 1900-1950

By Cliona Rattigan

This powerful book explores the history of single mothers and infanticide in Ireland over a 50 year period. Based primarily on underused archival material from the Central Criminal Court in the National Archives of Ireland, 'What Else Could I Do?' provides a detailed analysis of the diverse experiences of unmarried mothers who faced criminal charges because they were suspected of having committed infanticide. Although statistics relating to female perpetrators of serious forms of crime are examined, the history of single women who killed their illegitimate infants cannot be understood through official numbers alone. The book undertakes a detailed case-by-case analysis of the records of over 300 infanticide cases tried in Ireland - both North and South - during the first half of the 20th century. This timely study will make an important contribution to historical scholarship and adds considerably to existing knowledge of female criminal behavior in Ireland. It is also a major contribution to the historical understanding of gender relations, class, sexuality, and family life.

288 pages

Publication Date: 1/1/2012
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9780716531395