Nothing touches people as a child’s grave can. Innocence ended; a life barely begun, the joy and promise inherent in a child suddenly gone. The Victorian/Edwardian era brought children’s memorials to a level not seen before, but we sometimes still see similar in modern times.
Victorian American Children’s Culture
Scholars from many fields have studied aspects of the history of childhood. While there is little consensus on an overarching theory of childhood, those who focus on late-nineteenth-century Anglo-America agree that it was an era in which an ideal of childhood arose that stressed the natural innocence and joyfulness of children, their right to a labor-free childhood, and the responsibility of adults and the state to protect children’s dependency. The new field of pediatrics, a movement to provide infants with safe milk, compulsory education, kindergartens, societies for the prevention of cruelty to children, child labor laws, a new body of literature for children’s entertainment, and a large class of objects catering to children’s perceived needs all document the new positioning of children as the hub around which the upper- and middle-class American home revolved in the late nineteenth century. Vivianna Zelizer identifies this as an era of “profound transformation in the economic and sentimental value of children.”
–The Baby-in-a-Half-Shell: A Case Study in Child Memorial Art of the Late Nineteenth Century
by Annette Stott
Calvary Cemetery, Missouri
Detail of Julia’s memorial
Francis Bentley Craw, Lakeview Cemetery, 1847
Tapho note: The shell motif stones were mail order,
customizable to degrees dependent upon one’s wallet.
“..a few of my favorite things…”
This amazing and haunting photo is the work of Isabelle Cooper,
who graciously allowed us to share it with you. -Taph
Baby memorial garden, London Rd., Coventry, England
A painter of rainbows”
“Natchez – 10 yr old Florence died in 1871. She was extremely frightened of storms and her grief-stricken mother had Florence’s casket constructed with a glass window at the head. The grave was dug to provide an area, the same depth of the coffin, at the child’s head, but this area had steps that would allow the mother to descend to her daughter’s level so she could comfort her during storms. To shelter the mother, metal trap doors were installed over the area the mother would occupy.”
After the mother’s death, the glass window was cemented over to prevent vandalism, but you can still go down the steps to where the mother sat.
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
– from a headstone in Ireland