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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.



Upcoming Events

718 • 351 • 1611

Historic Richmond Town
441 Clarke Avenue

Staten Island, NY   10306


Rosemarie Mangano Cavanagh joins Historic Richmond Town Board

Rosemarie Mangano Cavanagh 300x411July 1, 2017 - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has named Rosemarie Mangano Cavanagh as the Mayor’s representative on the Board of Directors of the Staten Island Historical Society at Historic Richmond Town.

Barnett Shepherd named Interim Executive Director of Historic Richmond Town

Barnett Shepherd 300x450
May 1, 2017 - Noted architectural historian, researcher, author, and museum professional Barnett Shepherd has been named the Interim Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Staten Island Historical Society and Historic Richmond Town.

Save our Roofs!

Basketmaker House Resized

Keep history safe and dry!

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.



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