A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site

March 2008 - December 2008

Youngsters to be Proud Of

The Changing Nature of Childhood

Rosa-Maye & Manville Kendrick (AHC Kendrick Collection, TESHS)

 (Kendrick Collection, TESHS)

"I know Mr. K is the proudest man in Wyoming.

It's so fortunate that you have one of each, and

I am sure they will be youngsters to be proud of."

Laura Zook to Eula Kendrick, 1900​​


AMERICANS PREFER TO look at the past through rose-colored glasses. When we think about what childhood used to be like, we tend to think of our favorite fictional characters: Tom Sawyer running barefoot through the grass; Laura Ingalls playing outside her one-room school; Nancy Drew sitting in her room doing her homework; "The Beav" coming home to his mother's milk and cookies.

For many American children, however, the reality was much different. Did you know:

  • In the 1850s, childrearing books were geared towards fathers and not mothers?
  • In 1900, over 1.7 million children between the ages of 10 and 15 were considered "breadwinners" by the U. S. Census Bureau?
  • Until the 1910s, most children's bedrooms were in attics or unheated corners where they wouldn't be in anyone's way?
  • In the 1900s, preventable disease killed over 60 percent of the children who died?
  • In the 1920s, too much "mother love" was considered bad for the family?
  • In the late 1920s, parents in well-to-do families feared kidnappers?
  • During the Depression, over 200,000 children a year roamed the country, homeless and alone?

By using the experiences of three generations of the Kendrick family, this exhibit shows the many ways that childhood has changed over the years, both for good and ill.

 State Historic Site

Trail End