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| Sometime around 1905 the Milton Bradley Company of Springfield,
Massachusetts, published a toy village consisting essentially of a paper 2'x2'
a set of cardboard buildings and figures to set up on it.
Over the next decade, as you can see
from the boxes at left, it was
republished under several different titles, and with some changes in its design,
but as far as we've been able to determine, every version included an Uncle
Tom's Cabin among the cardboard buildings children could play with.|
The set available here was purchased off EBay, and is undoubtedly incomplete. A typical set contained 4-5 more buildings (including a church, a blacksmith's shop, a store and several more houses) and additional figures (including, in some of the later versions, automobiles as well as horse-drawn carriages), but our set includes the only black figures we've seen in any version.
You can access these materials in two different ways. Simple
jpeg images are available at the bottom of this page. But as a way of
using electronic technology to try to get a little closer to the experience of
the children who played with this toy, we've created
3D models of the assembled village and Tom's Cabin in QuickTime3D. As long as
your browser has the QuickTime plug-in, you can open up, rotate and zoom in on these 3D models by
clicking on either of these icons:
In at least one OTHER BRADLEY PLAY VILLAGE, the MAT was labelled to indicate the appropriate spot for each of the buildings. In the version on this page there are no such labels, but it seems clear that the size of the lots as drawn on the MAT required kids playing with the set to segregate "Uncle Tom's Cabin" away from the much larger houses where white families live. One of our goals in creating this exhibit is to give you the chance to see whether this "toy" tended to re-inforce the forms of racial discrimination that defined the national culture in the early 20th century, and decide what places and roles are being defined for the black citizens of this town.
Below are the unassembled building and figures. Click on any to enlarge them.
|Uncle Tom's Cabin: