Skip to main content

Fass, Paula S. 1947-

FASS, Paula S. 1947-

PERSONAL: Born May 22, 1947, in Hannover, West Germany (now Germany); immigrated to United States, 1951; naturalized citizen, 1960; daughter of Harry (in business) and Bluma Fass; married John E. Lesch (a professor of history), July 13, 1980; children: Bluma Jessica, Charles H. T. Education: Barnard College, A.B. (with high honors), 1967; Columbia University, M.A., 1968, Ph.D., 1974.

ADDRESSES: Home—Berkeley, CA. Office—Department of History, University of California—Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720; fax: 510-643-5323. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office of Education, Washington, DC, intern, 1968; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, lecturer, 1972-73, assistant professor of history, 1973-74; University of California—Berkeley, assistant professor, 1974-77, associate professor, 1977-87, professor of history, 1987—, Chancellor's Professor, 1998-2001, Preston Hotchkis Professor, 2001—.

MEMBER: American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Society for the History of Childhood and Youth, Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellow, 1967, 1971; Rockefeller Foundation humanities fellow, 1977-78; National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, 1985-86, 1994-95; Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, CA, fellow, 1991-92.


The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1977.

Outside In: Minorities and the Transformation of American Education, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1989.

Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1997.

(Coeditor) Childhood in America, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor-in-chief) Child and Childhood Encyclopedia, three volumes, Macmillan (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to books, including The Hofstadter Aegis, edited by Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, Knopf (New York, NY), 1974; Television As a Cultural Force, edited by Douglass Cater and Richard Adler, Praeger (New York, NY), 1976; School Days, Rule Days: The Legalization of Education, edited by David L. Kirp and Donald Jensen, Falmer Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1986; All Our Families: New Policies for a New Century, edited by Mary Ann Mason, Arlene Skolnick, and Stephen Sugarman, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998; and American Places: Encounters with History, edited by William E. Leuchtenburg, Oxford University Press, 2000. Contributor to history and education journals.

SIDELIGHTS: Paula S. Fass once told CA: "In my work I have been concerned with how deviant or marginal behaviors among groups (for example, youth, immigrants, or blacks) have been incorporated into and have recreated the mainstream culture. More recently I have become interested in crimes against and by children. In my first book, The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s, I examined deviant behavior among mainstream (and largely privileged) youth in colleges and universities. In Outside In: Minorities and the Transformation of American Education I argued that American education in the twentieth century cannot properly be understood without looking carefully at how various subgroups (immigrants, blacks, women, and Catholics, for example) have been incorporated by schools, and how they have changed schools. More recently, in Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America, I have examined how the heinous crime of child kidnapping was embedded in larger social issues to become the most feared threat to children in contemporary America.

"I was drawn to write Kidnapped by the need to understand why I, as a parent, had become terrified that my children might be abducted. I was clearly not alone, since the fear of kidnapping was widespread among American parents. As a historian, my first thought was to locate the source of both the phenomenon of child kidnapping and the fears in historical time. When did these start? How had they changed? Who was stealing our children? As I began to explore the subject, I realized that the problem of child kidnapping was deeply woven into the cultural fabric of the past 120 years and that to unravel the mystery of our own anxieties was to grapple with the formation of intimate emotions in the context of the evolution of the modern family and gender roles; policing, law, and court procedures; the media and the role of publicity; sexuality and the governing visions of psychology.

"At that point, my writing became an exciting exploration of the intersection of the personal and the social as I became deeply aware of the complex relationship between our crimes, our fears, and the great social changes of modern times—changes which are usually described in the most impersonal and abstract terms by historians and other social analysts. That recognition made clear to me that the book had to be written as it was experienced—as very personal stories about abducted children and their parents. It was my role as a historian to tell their stories while locating them in their full social, cultural, and historical space. For me this was a profoundly important revelation that made the writing itself a great fulfillment of vision. For the first time in my career I believed that I was the instrument of a book that had to be written and that it was my role to make sure that this happened."



American Historical Review, December, 1977; October, 1991, Miriam Cohen, review of Outside In: Minorities and the Transformation of American Education, p. 1311.

American Journal of Sociology, July, 1990, David Tyack, review of Outside In, p. 253.

Booklist, October 15, 1997, Grace Fill, review of Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America, p. 366.

Historian, winter, 2000, E. Wayne Carp, review of Kidnapped, p. 408.

Journal of American History, December, 1998, Michael Grossberg, review of Kidnapped, p. 1114.

Journal of Social History, summer, 1991, Glenn C. Altschuler, review of Outside In, p. 834; spring, 1999, Daniel A. Cohen, review of Kidnapped, p. 677.

Library Journal, August, 1989, Jeffrey R. Herold, review of Outside In, p. 146; November 15, 1997, Sandra Isaacson, review of Kidnapped, p. 68.

New Republic, March 15, 1999, Margaret Talbot, "Against Innocence," p. 27.

New York Times, May 4, 1977.

New York Times Book Review, April 24, 1977.


Banker, John V., editor, The Worlds around Us: Conversations with University of California—Berkeley Professors (e-book),, 1999.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Fass, Paula S. 1947-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . 16 Aug. 2019 <>.

"Fass, Paula S. 1947-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . (August 16, 2019).

"Fass, Paula S. 1947-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Retrieved August 16, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.