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Historically Fort Bend:
When it Was a Child’s World


Lizzie Wessendorff, Nettie Laurie Winston, Jenetta Wessendorff, and Blakely Winston on a pony cart with pony Countess.

Lizzie Wessendorff, Nettie Laurie Winston, Jenetta Wessendorff, and Blakely Winston on a pony cart with pony Countess.

Young Victorian children were seen as innocent beings that should be protected against the realities of the world, especially intimacy. As a result, parents dressed their toddlers and young children, both girls and boys, in long dresses or skirts. An added bonus of this approach was that it prevented toddlers from crawling on the floor, which Victorians considered too animalistic. Often hairstyles were also the same for both genders. Nurseries were decorated in a gender-neutral way and both boys and girls slept in the same room. This practice continued until about the age of 4 or so.

Slightly older boys and girls then often wore the same sorts of clothes as adults but with a few differences. For example, boys wore knickers rather than full-length pants and girls’ dresses and skirts were shorter than the ladies attire they resembled. Sailor suits were also popular for both boys and girls. Accessories for boys and girls were also very similar to the hats, bags, gloves, etc. used by their parents.

These preferences remained the standard until the 20th century when it became fashionable for toddlers to wear pants and crawl on the floor to explore the world around them. Parents also began to apply gender- specific ideas to dress and décor for younger children as they began to be celebrated as children rather than small adults or innocent angels.

Historical facts and photos courtesy of the Fort Bend County
Museum Association, Richmond, TX

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Cabinet card, Eliza Jones.

Cabinet card, Eliza Jones.

 

Cabinet card of a young girl in a dress.

Cabinet card of a young girl in a dress.

 

Cabinet card of Raymond Moore in dress, ca. 1889.

Cabinet card of Raymond Moore in dress, ca. 1889.

 

Copy photograph of three children.

Copy photograph of three children.

 

 

When it Was a Child’s World


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