The Baby's Biography: Record of the Child-Life of Geraldine Richmond
Lacon, Illinois: 1893-1894.
Lacon, Illinois: 1893-1894. Handmade baby book on watercolor paper stitched at spine measuring 200 x 160mm and slipped into a folded sheet measuring 250 x 170mm. External wrap with a lovely original watercolor floral with the name Geraldine; tender, with splitting along foldline. Baby book comprised of 16 leaves of manuscript and original pen drawings to rectos only. Additional 4 pieces loosely inserted include: a handwritten card from Carrie Bartlett with The Baby poem pinned to footer, two child hand-tracings at various ages, and a description of Geraldine's sixth birthday party and gifts on State of Illinois Senate Chamber letterhead. A beautiful testament to the bond between a 19th century mother and her first daughter, as well as to her own artistic care and creativity.
Jennie Richmond's excitement over each of the early moments of her first daughter's life is lovingly documented in this unique manuscript. Detailed and lovely half and full title pages open the piece, with Jennie using red ink to create floral and cupid motifs, and lines for manuscript text; to this she adds in dark ink and entries about Geraldine's infancy. These are no less detailed than the illustrations. "Born at Lacon, Ill on Tuesday the 18th Day of April 1893 at the hour of 1.20 O'clock A.M. unto Mr. and Mrs. Richmond," this initial entry also includes the autographs of the parents as well as the attending physician and nurse. She weighed "five pounds and one half." Geraldine's "first picture was taken at five and one half months by Grant Rose. Oil painting made by Jennie L. Fitch...First tooth when ten months old. Learned to creep forward when the metronome was put before her. First step July 7 when almost 13 months old. Plaster of Paris hand taken when 3 months old." Geraldine's first bath, a lock of her hair, her first ring -- these and so many other tiny moments are made monumental in this book. It becomes clear not only that Geraldine is adored, but also that she is surrounded by art, music, and intellectual activity. Jennie's husband Elijah, an attorney, afforded them a comfortable lifestyle that could allow all this. Census records show that Jennie and Elijah went on to have three more children -- all sons. And on being widowed, Jennie took up living with Geraldine in a single household. Geraldine, by 1940, had become a music teacher with her own studio.
A lovely, unique and research rich piece touching on the history of maternity, the history of infant education, women's domestic lives, women's education and art, and genealogy among other fields.
U.S. Census 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940. (Item #5648)