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Baby Carriage

Baby carriage, American (purchased in Ohio), 1894, Wood, wicker, birch bark, cotton, nylon, steel, and rubber, gift of Earl Olsen, 1972.12.1.

Although humans have been developing ways to carry their young for thousands of years, the first baby carriage was invented in 1733 by William Kent for the Duke of Devonshire. As something made for a duke’s child is expected to be, it was extremely lavish and gilded with gold and silver and designed to be pulled by a miniature pony. Due to the expensive price tag on early strollers, few lower class people had them and if they did, the carriage would be made of much humbler materials like wood or wicker.

However, in 1889 the African American inventor, William H. Richardson, patented a new type of baby carriage. His idea was to use a special joint to allow a bassinet to be turned to face the operator. Several changes were made that allowed his carriage for the wheel to turn individually, which meant that the vehicle could turn 360 degrees in a smaller turning radius.

Due to this new design and affordability, stroller’s became more widely used by the middle class.