II-46825.1 | Missie Malarkey, Montreal, QC, 1877

Missie Malarkey, Montreal, QC, 1877
Notman & Sandham
1877, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
17 x 12 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  female (19035) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

The age of zoological gardens is echoed on the home front, as Victorians embrace a craze for collecting and exhibiting exotic animals. Besides often elaborate, flimsy-looking birdcages, domestication of the animal world necessitates all sorts of paraphernalia - small mirrors, bells and feeders. Children are encouraged to learn about the cycle of life through raising pets - both a morally noble and educational pastime. In post-Confederation Canada, despite the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species in 1859, many continue to believe that nature is divinely inspired. Their beautiful colours and songs, as well as their exotic nature, ensure the acceptance of caged birds in religious households and beyond.

Jane L. Cook, "Bringing the Outside In," Material History Review 38 (fall 1993): 36-49.

Darwin, Charles R., The Origin of Species (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. 1859), ed. Gillian Beer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996).

Katherine C. Grier, Culture and Comfort: People, Parlors, and Upholstery, 1850-1930 (Rochester, NY: Strong Museum, 1988).

Greg Tarry, "Animal Collections-Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," Muse 21, no. 1 (1999): 16-18. (Tarry, Greg. "Les collections animales-le passé, le present, l'avenir." Muse 21 1(1999): 19-21.)

Source : Crowding the Parlour [Web tour], by Jane Cook, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    This is a staged photograph of a girl looking at what is probably a stuffed bird. Its cage resembles a doll's house, with its chimney, roof and walls.

  • Where

    This domestic scene is set in Montreal.

  • When

    The photograph was taken in 1877.

  • Who

    The girl is "Missie Malarkey." Young girls were named "Missie" up until they were around twelve years old. The photo was taken by the partnership of Notman and Sandham.