The Archive

The Archive > 1980s: SMALL FOLK


Dear Editor:

What great American writer said …

“It was a misfortune to have been born in an age when children were nothing, and to have spent mature life in an age when children were everything.”

If you guessed Ralph Waldo Emerson – you were right. At the beginning of the nineteenth century when Emerson was born, the seventh century puritan conception of the child as miniature adult afflicted by innate evil, was still considered valid.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, a new appreciation of childhood had emerged along with a belief in the innocence of youth.

On December 12, an exhibition of American folk art visually expressing this historic societal change and providing a fascinating glimpse into the past will open simultaneously at the Museum of American Folk Art and The New-York Historical Society.

Small Folk: A Celebration of Childhood in America is a Christmas and Chanukah gift to the twentieth century child, who is at last the object of a sympathetic and affectionate appreciation. Among the child-related items in the exhibition are portraits painted by folk artists known as “country limners,”…