Wordless Wednesday: Sunbonnet Babies

This is the way we iron our clothes

Iron our clothes, iron our clothes.

This is the way we iron our clothes,

So early Tuesday morning.

This postcard was found among my grandfather’s collection and is hand postmarked 1907.  Five year old Donald C. Minor received this note from his teenage cousin, Flossie McClure.

The J.I Austen Company of Chicago was but one entity capitalizing on the popularity of Bertha L. Corbett’s “Sunbonnet Babies”.  An accomplished illustrator, Miss Corbett had first drawn the babies, faces hidden, to demonstrate to peers that plenty of expression could be conveyed by a figure alone.  Leaving the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts, Bertha Corbett studied under the great illustrator, Howard Pyle, at the Drexel Academy in Philadelphia.  While perfecting her drawings of children, she was approached by Eulalie Oswood Grover to illustrate her popular primers for children, and in 1902 the Sunbonnet Babies Primer was published to great acclaim.  Soon Bertha Corbett’s babies were being sought by commercial entities to sell all sorts of products.  The images were also used on postcards and quilt patterns as well.

This card is signed by the artist on the far right.

1. Radner, Joan Newlon. Feminist Messages: Coding in Women’s Folk Culture. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1993. 99-100. Google EBooks. Web. May 2, 2012.

2.  Woman’s Who’s Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women, 1914-1915. Ed. John W. Leonard. New York: American Commonwealth, 1915. 554. Google EBooks. Web. 2 May 2012.

3.  Buckley, James M., ed. “The Mother of the Sun-bonnet Babies.” The Christian Advocate 82 (1907): 1582-583. Google Ebooks. Web. 2 May 2012.

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