The Main Bedroom: Confinement

As you explore the exhibit, click on images to learn more about the artifacts and to read full transcriptions and view full-size scans of the letters.
Birthing Couch

An example of a birthing couch, displayed in the main bedroom 

A surprisingly public space, the main bedroom of the Wylie House could have been used as another room for entertainment. The double doors would be opened and furniture pushed to the side, allowing for larger events to spill into this room. Again, this public use of supposedly private space exemplifies the contradictions of the domestic, woman’s sphere. Family letters indicate that this room may have also been Louisa’s room in 1881, where she stayed with her children while her husband, Hermann, lived away from the family, teaching in Williamstown, Massachusetts. But for the exhibit, the main bedroom has been transformed into a birthing room, a site of anticipation, fear, excitement, and womanhood.

Passage from Aunt Emma's Diary, July 14, 1875

Passage from Aunt Emma's Diary, dated July 14, 1875

Miscarriage, Stillbirths, and Maternal Grief 

Passage from the Diary of Louisa Wylie Boisen, June 23, 1881

“Finale—little boy”. - Louisa Wylie Boisen, June 23, 1881

Confused on who's who? Take a look at the Family Relationship Chart at the end of this exhibit.

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