The 13 essays in ""Small Worlds"" treat children as active, influential participants in society. Here children and adolescents from the pre-Civil War generation to 1950 are seen as actors in their own right, shapers of their own history who not only mirror adult values, but also modify them. Editors Elliott West and Paula Petrik have organized the essays in ""Small Worlds"" around four topics: cultural and regional variations, toys and play, family life and the ways evolving memories of childhood shape how adults think of themselves. And, since photography provides the best record of childhood, they've added a photographic essay by Ray Hiner entitled ""Seen But Not Heard"". Young people, West and Petrik argue, performed many of the essential jobs in newly industrialized America, and they continued to play vital roles on their families' farms well into the 20th century. As a result, children have been increasingly influential in American economic life - as consumers. According to West and Petrik, the study of children also reveals how values evolve out of the mutual give-and-take between society and child in the socialization process. This enormously complex evolution continues as the child matures and, in turn, tries mightily to pass on values to a new generation of children who work just as strenuously to make up their own minds.