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mrs_curley
09-28-2006, 02:26 PM
Hi group,

I have been a lurker here for quite awhile! I was wondering if anyone knew the age that girls typically learned to sew during our period. I remember being on a tour at a national park and hearing that girls could usually do simple mending by seven, but I can't seem to find much info on the internet. Does anyone have any ideas or references I can turn to?

Thanks!

bizzilizzit
09-28-2006, 02:30 PM
Hi group,

I have been a lurker here for quite awhile! I was wondering if anyone knew the age that girls typically learned to sew during our period. I remember being on a tour at a national park and hearing that girls could usually do simple mending by seven, but I can't seem to find much info on the internet. Does anyone have any ideas or references I can turn to?

Thanks!

Birth. Some think in the womb.
I would think the actual age would depend on the ability of the child - as soon as they could handle the needle.
Elizabeth

hanktrent
09-28-2006, 03:02 PM
I agree: As early as possible.

Mrs. Child in The Mother's Book, 1831, says


It is very important, and very difficult, to furnish young children with sufficient employment... No one who has not lived with a family of children can conceive how very difficult it is to keep a child of five or six years old employed. It is a good plan to teach little girls to knit, to weave bobbin, watchguards, chains, &c. Making patchwork is likewise a quiet amusement; and if a child be taught to fit herself, it may be made really useful. If the corners are not fitted exactly, or the sewing done neatly, it should be taken to pieces and fitted again... Knitting may be learned still earlier than sewing. I am sorry to see this old fashioned accomplishment so universally discarded.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

ElizabethClark
09-28-2006, 03:55 PM
Practically speaking, my daughter learned to knit at 4-5 years, and was working little running-stitch sewing projects at 3-4 years--the sewing was accomplished with very little instruction. It does seem to be the historic norm to teach working class children useful handwork very young--younger than many of us might think to teach them! (However, Waldorf-style schools teach such handwork starting at age 4-5, and have done since the late 1800s... it's only recently we've assumed children must be stupid. :) )

MaidenoftheSouth
09-30-2006, 07:48 PM
Okay, changing the wording of the original question a bit...What sort of employment would you have for 4-5 year old boys?

Thanks!

ElizabethClark
10-01-2006, 10:05 AM
Knitting.

Really! Knitting seems to have been taught to both sexes as a matter of course, right up into the 20th century. For some ethnicities (Scottish men), knowing how to knit seems to have been a bragging point for the grown-up herd boys (who spent summers watching sheep and knitting.)

Otherwise, things like fetching and stacking wood and other chores would be useful, though somewhat limited at the average event, because you'll be missing things like floors to sweep, chickens to feed, gardens to weed, animals to tend, etc. Playing is a perfectly acceptable distraction, and most boys are very good at it. :) Mike and Virginia Mescher have some great amusement resources at http://www.vintagevolumes.com

mrs_curley
10-04-2006, 01:50 PM
Mr. Trent,

Could you tell me what page that information is on? I would like to cite it as a resource for project I am working on.

Thank you!

hanktrent
10-04-2006, 02:19 PM
It's on p. 61-62 of our reprint. If you want to see more context, the book is also online at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/child/book/book.html . The section quoted is in Chapter Five.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net