A Gallery of Honorable Mentions

Patrick Cox, H-NET President-Elect and Editor's picture

Of course there are, and we received, far more childhood artifacts than could ever be contained in a list of 25. Here we share a few extra that were noteworthy.

1. Owen Lindauer, Project Development Specialist and Archeologist with the Fedreal Highway Administration, sent information about a dig he led of the United States Industrial Indian School, founded in 1891. Really amazing stuff but all his pictures were on slides and we were unable to get them converted to digital in time. Their work among the artifacts unearthed many traces of Native American childrens’ resistance to the indoctrination they were forced to endure. It’s pretty fascinating stuff and we’re happy to include here a link to an online article Owen published about the dig http://archive.archaeology.org/online/features/phoenix/.

 

2. Crayola Crayons. 

These were proposed by Megan Applegate, a Childhood Studies major at Rutgers University. Megan importantly wrote of crayons as “toy” in quotes, noting their additional association with creativity and imagination. Interestingly, crayons were the only instrument of children’s expression that we received.

 

3. The slingshot. 

The slingshot. We don't usually think of the slingshot as a manufactured product, but Vincent L. Baehr, another Rutgers University Childhood Studies major, informs us they were not only produced for sale in 1948 but that the sound they make inspired the name of their producer: Wham-O. Vincent alluded to the slingshot's iconic status as a symbol of American boyhood mischiel (thank you Dennis the Menace). He also points out that today they are more often be associated with danger and rarely given to children.

 

4. Dolls

Molly Rosner, doctoral student in American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark, submitted a wonderful piece on the general category of Dolls. Dolls were by the far the most common items we received. We loved that the images Molly chose to accompany her submission were these advertisements. It seemed to us a needed overt mention of the child consumer, a figure surprisingly unmentioned in this collection, especially given how many of the artifacts are/were consumer goods. Also to be noted: the somewhat disturbing conflation of doll with child in the case of the Shirley Temple doll.

5. Indians and Cowboys. 

Not a single artifact but a broad conceit, “Indians and Cowboys”  was suggested by M.C.L. Prevost, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Social Justice at the University of Toronto. Maree traces games of “cowboys and indians” back to games of Knights and Sailors in the Middle Ages. In the American fairytale, she sees “that masked man” on horseback as the transatlantic translation of the centaur of Medieval Christian Bestiaries, further morphed through radio show, TV series, coloring books, plastic toys, Halloween costumes, and countless remakes of the Lone Ranger and Tonto into a core image of American identity and American historical boyhood. (Just a note: we found this image. Timing and permissions held up Maree's ideal images.)

 

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Categories: AC25
Keywords: childhood, AC25