chapter  2
17th- to 19th-Century Children’s Domestic Practices
“Activities” and “Rational Recreations” as Historical “DIY Culture”
ByJacqueline Reid-Walsh
Pages 32

In the previous chapter, I gave an overview of key scholarly work on the genre of movable books and provided an outline of my theoretical vocabulary around ideas of interactivity, children’s activity and agency, and participatory culture. While stressing contemporary theorists, I also sketched in a background of previous thinkers in order to locate my study within a historical and comparative approach. In this chapter, I take some key ideas concerning child activity and agency when interacting with different materials into a practical context by drawing on a combination of archival materials and secondary resources. In the introductory section, I examine notions of domestic activities and recreations and discuss the domestic products of one notable 18th-century mother. Then I consider several examples of the children’s cultural production (such as making samplers, engaging in optical recreations, and making book-like artifacts) in the home from the 17th to 19th centuries in terms of gender and class.