MP-0000.583.64 | Three girls and their dolls, Calgary, AB, 1893-94
Three girls and their dolls, Calgary, AB, 1893-94
Robert Randolph Bruce
1893-1894, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
12 x 20 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords: child (1308) , informal (1120) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
Keys to History
The importance of the domestic sphere reflected women's role in bourgeois society. As mistress of the household, she was responsible for the home's decoration and management. As mother, she saw to the welfare and upbringing of her children. This was a heavy responsibility because the Victorians recognized the importance of childhood and valued children. . These changing attitudes opened up a fertile new field of consumption. Every child represented an infinite number of needs to be met: clothing, toys, books and magazines, bicycles, skates, furniture for the bedroom or nursery, and more. The fear of infant mortality stimulated the demand for a wide range of new medicines and foods intended especially to protect or cure young consumers.
This photo takes us into a middle-class Calgary home. Three little girls pose proudly with their many dolls.
In 1893-94 Calgary was a small pioneer town on the Canadian Prairies. The Canadian Pacific Railway had just arrived. The first settlers came from Ontario and Quebec, drawn by the promise of the West.
Dolls have been around for a very long time, but in the 19th century, new industrially mass-produced dolls made their appearance. They had a porcelain head, eyes that opened and a soft rubber body.
With their pretty dresses and white pinafores, their many toys and their comfortable home, these little girls had a golden childhood. It was a privilege not granted to all children of the Victorian era.