United States Boys' Clothes: Family Members

Figure 1.-- This cabinent card is undated. We would guess that it was taken in the 1870s. We see two little boys with bangs. Their clothes are indestinct. They are with their nurse maid, a fairly unusual portrait. The nurse has a lace cap. She clearly was a beloved member of the family. The photographer is J. Will Barbour of Chambersburg Pennsylvania.

The nuclear family of mom and dad and one or two children is now the standard Americamn family. This of course was not always the case. Families used to be larger, a reflection of the largely agricultural backgrounds of most American families. We not only notice more children, but also other fmily members such as grandparents, uncles, and aunts. In the era before Social Security, groen-up children were expected to care for their parents in old age. Maiden aunts were also taken in by family members. This of course in some cases made fir very large families. We can see this in several of the HBC 19th century family pages. Affluent families might have servants are help for the more modestly affluent. These people would not have been considered family members. One exception here was help that cared for the children, nurse maids and governesses. Nanny that stayed with the family over an extended period may havevbeen considered quasi-family members. This varied from family to family. In some instances, nannies who cared for a child might also care for that grown-up child's children. In some 19th century families, the children might be closer to the nannies and governesses than the parents.


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Created: 5:21 AM 3/30/2006
Last updated: 5:21 AM 3/30/2006