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June 21, 2020

Bizarre Daguerreotypes of Victorian Women Breastfeeding

At a time when when modesty was considered fundamental in women, these images depict an unlikely fashion amongst mid-19th century mothers.

According to Gwen Sharp, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Nevada State College, the use of wet nurses had never been as common in the U.S. as in Europe, and it became even less popular by the early 1800s; breastfeeding your own child became a central measure of your worth as a mother. Cultural constructions of femininity became highly centered on motherhood and the special bond between a mother and her children in the Victorian era.

Given that the images are daguerreotypes - the first commercial photographic process - the subjects do not appear quite as at ease as their modern counterparts might. The women and their babies would have had to sit still for approximately ten minutes while the image developed on a silvered copper plate - presumably a challenge with small children involved.










1 comment:

  1. "The women and their babies would have had to sit still for approximately ten minutes while the image developed on a silvered copper plate - presumably a challenge with small children involved."
    Man, the people who write for this site really are not all that bright after all. At first I didn't think it was as bad as the trollish commenters were saying, but the more I read the more I tend to agree with them. FWIW, nursing babies almost invariably sit still for that long, if not longer.

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