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Bringing Up Baby

HighChairConvertible Highchair, ca. 1900

CradleHooded Cradle, 1780-1820

 condensedmilkTrade Card Image, 1897

Bringing Up Baby features highlights of Historic Richmond Town's furniture collection, presenting new scholarship on the meaning and use of things like carriages, cradles, and potty chairs. 

Imagine bringing up baby without running water, an automatic washing machine, or, dismay -- no disposable diapers! Our ancestors did just that. They may have even welcomed the advice from a naive (and apparently, childless) physician in Philadelphia in the 1820s to urge parents to "Begin potty training at one month of age."

Many of these objects are world class 19th century artifacts. 

But, our parents' great-great-grandparents were not without the same kinds of concerns we have for our children today. They worried about their safety, what they ate, how they behaved and, yes, if they washed behind their ears. Objects of childhood tell a great deal about family life.

More than 30 historic furnishings are displayed including highchairs, cradles, and baby carriages, along with other childhood artifacts and photographs. Today's parents get a unique opportunity to look at the family life of their ancestors with this exhibit.  Many of these objects are world class 19th century artifacts.

See how furniture changed as childrearing practices and parental aspirations evolved through the centuries. The solid sides and paneled hood of a cradle from 1780-1820 reflect parents' concern with shielding their infants from drafts and protecting their eyes from light. As ventilation emerged as a greater concern, cradles made later in the 19th century were given slatted or spindled sides. By the end of the 19th century, fears that the rocking motion was harmful to infants rendered cradles nearly obsolete.

A ladderback highchair made 1780-1820 is essentially a child-sized version of an adult chair, but with long legs so its tiny user could reach the table. Its tall stiles angle inward for increased stability. In contrast, an innovative convertible highchair made 1876-1890 is specialized and complex, intended to safely contain and entertain the child. A patented mechanism allows it to convert to a rocking chair or a stroller.

Seen together, the display of children's furniture has visual impact that comes from the petite scale of the objects and also from the legacies of the original owners.



718 • 351 • 1611

Historic Richmond Town
441 Clarke Avenue

Staten Island, NY   10306

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Online Ticket Sales

Online tickets are available up until 3pm, two weekdays before the event. For  Saturday and Sunday events, tickets are available online until 3 pm Thursday.

Upcoming Events

  • Christmas in Richmond Town & Traditional Tree Lighting
    Sun - Dec 4, 2016 11:00AM
    Experience nostalgia all through the Historic Village.
  • Candlelight Tours
    Sat - Dec 10, 2016 5:00PM
    Visitors of all ages take a journey through three-hundred years of tradition as they discover how America's most festive season came to be.
  • NYC BBQ Cookoff 2017
    Sat - Apr 8, 2017 12:00PM
    NYC's only KCBS sanctioned cookoff for the whole family. Sample, stroll, quench and enjoy fun stuff with the kids.
  • NYC Chili Cookoff 2017
    Sat - Apr 22, 2017 12:00PM
    The internationally recognized ICS family event that includes chili sampling, judging, cash prizes, amusements, and live entertainment. Yum!
  • Father's Day Focus Tour
    Sat - Jun 17, 2017 1:00PM
    What did dad's workshop look like in the past?
  • Father's Day Focus Tour
    Sun - Jun 18, 2017 1:00PM
    What did dad's workshop look like in the past?
  • Independence Day Celebration
    Sat - Jul 1, 2017 12:00PM
    It's an old-fashioned, patriotic celebration of the classic American holiday. Get your hand-churned ice cream and a pie-full of traditional fun!



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