The simple, wooden cradles listed in the inventories of 18th century Workhouses tell us of the dire conditions that pregnant women living in poverty outside of the houses would have had to endure.

When introducing the cradles of 18th century and their significance in Workhouses in a museum context, it would be helpful to first show physical examples. Some of lesser quality which would more likely have been in the Workhouses, with infant dolls in them showing the visitor that children were born there. In addition, to display the idea that the pregnant women did not become so in the Workhouse, but rather came to the Workhouse afterward but before having their children, a video of pregnant women walking up to the doors of the Workhouses could be shown in the display.

To lead the visitor to consider the circumstances that poor, pregnant women would have had to endure at the time, other cradles of more elaborate and ornate construction could be shown. This could be in some digital context in which the locations of such cradles – more affluent places – could also be observed, contrasting these to the simpler ones found in the Workhouse. Why, then, would women choose to have their babies in places in which the furnishings were so relatively poor? Conditions outside must have been even worse.

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