Children on a seesaw 1902

Children play in a seesaw in 1902
Photo: Library of Congress

Effie Hobby was born in Wurtsboro, New York on February 19, 1897. She was born Effie Louisa Hitt and had three younger sisters: Ida, Vera, and Florence. Her father, a blacksmith, moved the family when Effie was 8 to Nichols Village in Trumbull, Connecticut. One of Effie's daily chores as a girl was cleaning the oil lamps in their house and trimming their wicks. She also remembers that grocery shopping was an all day chore. On grocery day, her father would hitch up the horse and wagon to drive Effie and her mother from Nichols to Bridgeport (about six and a half miles) where they could buy all their groceries and dry goods.

The early years of the 20th century were a time of great change in the United States. More children were starting to go to school, including women, minorities, and immigrants. African-Americans were legally segregated from whites with the Supreme Court case of Plessy versus Ferguson in 1896. And the newest American fad-the bicycle-was on the streets and changing the way women dressed. In earlier days, women had to wear long dresses with tight corsets, which made something like riding a bicycle impossible. As the sport of riding bicycles became more popular, women started wearing more practical clothing like bloomers (baggy trousers) which gave them new freedom in dress and movement.

Bicycles were not the only new freedoms women were experiencing. In 1890, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was founded. It was an organization created to gain rights for women. These rights ranged from having the right to control their own money to having the right to vote. It would take some time, but women won the right to vote, and Effie was there.

Think About It:
How was it harder in the 1890s to be a child? Are there some things that are harder about being a kid today?