This essay explores the 1907–11 Child-Rescue Campaign run by the Delineator, a fashion magazine for women edited by Theodore Dreiser. I argue that the campaign mobilized social science to reconceptualize maternity as based in affective expertise rather than biological reproduction. Readers were able to write in to the magazine to adopt “dependent” children whose images and stories were featured in each issue. The essay suggests that these serialized images and “tragic histories” constructed a form of realism in which the Delineator’s readers were invited to act as maternal experts, saving “future citizens” by rescuing them “out of a life of crime” and into white, middle-class domesticity, at the same time articulating the child’s biological mother as criminal and nonwhite.

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