The past perplexes us. It's one of the reasons so many of us find it so fascinating. The deeper we dig, the more surprising discoveries we make about the way of life 20, 50, or 100 years ago. What's considered "normal" has changed so drastically in a relatively short period of time. After all, our ancestors have been having children for upwards of a 160,000 years. And in just 100 short years, so much has changed; from how we meet our basic needs, to how we raise our children. But it's not these differences that pique our interest in the past. It's the similarities. And those similarities do exist. For instance, there's no doubt, that something as beautiful as a mother's love for her child has been consistent throughout time.
Time is precisely what we'll be dealing with in this list, going back 100 years. You will see moments captured from the day-to-day lives of women and their children from all around the globe. You will see a variety of socioeconomic classes going about their days.
Without further ado, here are 21 vintage pics from the life of a mom...
21 The Balance Of Work And Nursing
A hundred years ago, we were at war. Although it seems like we're going through a chaotic time ourselves, life in Europe during WW1 was incomparable.
This photo was taken in Rome, Italy, at a place called the "Laboratoire Nido". The photo depicts the wives of active soldiers who were forced to work while their babies waited close by. Only every two hours were they allowed to get up and nurse their children.
20 Nursing Lessons
Europe was thrown into a dark period between 1914 and 1918 and mothers were learning to nurse their babies. And even back then there were experts who taught mothers how to do it effectively.
In this photo, a professional dietician named Miss Geberdine, explains to a group of mothers just how they should be feeding their babies.
This happened at a Child Welfare Exhibit in St. Etienne, a beautiful city in central Eastern France.
19 Running From Hunger
The First World War displaced many people, as they wanted to flee to safer locations. According to the Library of Congress, this mother and her six children spent a cold year in Belgium, where the Germans wouldn't allow them any coal, so she could not keep a fire going for her kids. They also forced her to collect wood at night so she wouldn't be seen during the day.
Eventually, she and her children emigrated to Lille, France, and then to Charente-Inferierure where they could be cared for by the Red Cross.
18 Some Fresh Air
It's important that new mothers get out of the house at least once a day and get some fresh air. After giving birth, it's easy to stay inside all day and deal with all of a newborn's demands- and we all know that there are a lot of them. But this can be hard on a mother's mental and physical health.
It seems like this mom from 1918 knew this and decided to take a little stroll outside in the sun with her newborn, even though it was clearly Autumn.
But that's okay, she bundled her baby up, as well as herself, and was able to enjoy a few moments.
17 Going For A Ride
Some newborns, babies, and toddlers, absolutely love going for a ride as it can lull them off to sleep. However, there's no way that this type of ride would be acceptable by today's standards. The child would require a car seat that was up to a certain standard and never allowed in the sidecar of a motorcycle, even with her mother there beside her.
But this clearly was at least somewhat okay back then as this mother seems more than comfortable with her little one. At least the two are spending time together and going on a bit of an adventure.
16 Professional Portraits
Taking a snapshot wasn't nearly as easy in 1910 (when this photo was taken) as it is today. The quickest among us can whip out our smartphones and snap a selfie in a matter of seconds, if that. But back then it was an entire process. not to mention, cameras were particularly expensive and therefore not everyone had access to them.
Luckily, this mother and her sweet newborn did have access to a camera and managed to save this sweet moment for all of time.
Look at just how happy she appears to be. Even back then, new moms seemed absolutely delighted to be in the presence of their child.
15 A Little Knitting
In most parts of the world, the life of a woman was quite limited. Social norms at the time primarily had women tending to and raising children, as well as keeping their home in order for their husbands.
For many reasons, it's understandable that this could take a toll on many people. Luckily, some women were able to find hobbies such as knitting. Not only was this (and still is) a challenging and fun hobby to have, but it also allowed them to produce relatively cheap clothing for their children.
14 The Crow Nation
This rare and absolutely stunning photograph was taken of an Apsaroke mother and her young child in 1908, a little more than 100 years ago.
The Apsaroke people, otherwise known as "Crow" or "Crow Nation", primarily lived in the Montana region. Though their lifestyles were quite different from what we experience today, there are a number of similarities.
Clearly, she knew the benefits of wrapping her baby up tightly, as it allowed for easier transport.
Being bundled up also reminded the baby of his time in the womb, thereby comforting him.
13 Horse And Buggy
One man found some old photographs of his great uncle Ed, his aunt Mary and their children, and decided to share them with the Internet. This photograph was taken sometime between 1902 and 1918, which is a significant amount of time, but certain facts remained the same throughout that period in history.
For one, one of the main ways that people would go from place to place was by horse and carriage. Given that this family owned (or hired) a horse and buggy, as well as their garb, one could deduce that they were of a higher socioeconomic class.
12 Formal Portrait
This beautiful formal photograph of a mother holding up her young daughter was taken in the early 1910s during the Edwardian Era in England. The amount of time and care that has clearly been put into this image puts us and all of our generation's selfies to shame. Clearly, this photograph was meant to hang in this mother's home. By the looks of it, it was meant to be cherished for a lifetime and many more thereafter.
Though it's clearly quite staged, as all formal portraits were 100 years ago, there does seem to be a love shared between mother and daughter.
11 Family Gathering
Clearly, smiling wasn't a big thing in portraits 100 years ago. This is really too bad because it's hard to actually gauge just how much love was shared between family members. Perhaps everyone really was dreadfully unhappy to be there. At least no one is sporting a "duck face" here.
This family portrait was taken in this San Francisco family's formal living room under their ornate chandelier. As stated earlier, it was customary to treat photographs as somewhat ceremonial occasions, so fine clothing was necessary. The house also appears to be particularly well-kept as it was no doubt looked after by the matriarch of the family.
10 Garden Party
This mother appears to be particularly happy, at least compared to her very serious husband seated below her. It's hard to place exactly when this photograph was taken.
However, what the Internet did share is that it was taken in Austria during the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the First World War.
Although many mothers couldn't afford to feed their children during that dark period of time, this mother clearly had access to finer luxuries and took pleasure in sharing them with her two young children.
9 Radio Time
Unless you're constantly in your car or are a fan of Howard Stern and Sirius XM, radio is probably not incredibly present in your daily life. This was completely different back in the 1910s. Radio was one of the best ways to receive the news, other than the paper. This was particularly important since, at the time, most of the planet was in conflict.
By the look on this mother's face in this photo, they were about to enjoy a radio program or some music. The radio was also a major source of entertainment as television wasn't invented until the 1920s.
8 Cooking Lessons
You might have noticed that there are no boys in this photograph. This is because it was the social norm for women to do all of the household duties, including cooking, while the men went off and worked. Although this ideology seems extremely backward nowadays, it was mostly accepted back then.
In this image, taken in 1910, a mother teaches her daughters how to cook breakfast.
Back then, popular breakfasts included porridge, bread crusts soaked in warm milk, brown bread and butter with an egg, hot milk for children, cocoa and coffee for adults, smoked haddock, and bacon for those who could afford it.
7 The Life Of Marie Curie
Although the lives of women were often decided by men during this time, some found ways of breaking the mold. This included Marie Curie, a Polish and naturalized-French chemist and physicist, who became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. In fact, she remains the only woman to win the Nobel prize twice, as well as the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in two different sciences. Needless to say, she was ahead of her time.
On top of the fact that Marie had an incredible career and offered much to the progression of humanity, she was also a very caring mother who spent time with her young children.
6 Mothers Across The Globe
This family was across the globe from many of the others on this list, but regardless of location, there are many similarities in regards to how people in the 1910s took family photographs.
This family from China look as elegant as the families in the West who spent a great deal of time and effort in perfecting their looks for a formal portrait.
The clothing that this mother, her son, and husband are wearing are similar to those worn during the Qing Dynasty, which would date this image to somewhere around 1912. Little progression in the lives and lifestyles of women were made during this period. In fact, it was far more restrictive than it had been previously.
5 Day At The Beach
This Australian mother decided to take her two children to the beach, along with someone who had access to a camera. The image was taken in 1918 at Stanwell Beach, which is just South of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.
This serene location has always been a stellar location for site-seeing and a relaxing time in the sun. However, they clearly gave some thought to just how harmful the sun can be on the skin and wore their hats. This was not only what was fashionable at the time, but what was expected to be worn, even somewhere as casual as a public beach.
4 A Little Break
After working away for hours preparing items such as uniforms for the soldiers caught in the chaos of Worl War I in Europe, these mothers and nurses were able to take a short break with their youngsters. A work life is what was expected of them, especially during this period of war.
As with an early photograph on this list, these women were allowed a break every two hours to nurse, play, or catch some fresh air with their children.
This photograph was taken in front of the Red Cross Nursing Home at Porchefontaine near Paris, France, in the summer of 1918.
3 A Day At The CNE
Not every part of life during the late 1910's was difficult, even with a battle raging on the other side of the world. This woman and her child were able to enjoy a day out in the sun at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), which is a large summer festival in Toronto that rivals the PNE in Vancouver around the same time.
During the war, the grounds on which the CNE has always taken place were turned into a military housing and training facility. However, the two combined for the few weeks that the festival was on. This allowed the government to connect with the citizenry over Canada's war efforts.
But just because this all was going on didn't mean there wasn't something there for everyone. In fact, this photo is said to have been taken right by the CNE Baby Clinic Welfare Exhibit, which aimed to equip new moms with proper parenting practices.
2 Mother In Sri Lanka
This stunning photograph was taken in Sri Lanka in 1918, exactly 100 years ago. At this time, the island was under British rule. The country didn't actually gain their desired independence until 1948, and remained a Dominion of England up until 1972.
Unfortunately, this mother would have had to deal with many struggles during this time period since 1918-1919 marked a massive influenza outbreak in Sri Lanka that took the lives of over 300,000 people.
Despite the difficulties that came with that time and place, the look of determination in this mother's eyes is truly astounding. She is the definition of fierce grace.
1 Looking For A Better Life
Some mothers didn't have the luxury of going out for dinners, taking strolls on the beach, or riding in motorcycle sidecars with their infants. Some chose to pack their bags and leave their country of origin in search of a better life. One of these mothers is the one depicted in this image, who arrived on Ellis Island from war-torn Europe in 1918.
For a decade before the start of the war, upwards of a million immigrants arrived there per year, and it didn't dwindle much after that. Ellis Island was the first stop for them after a long boat journey. Generally, these immigrants spent upwards of five hours on the Island getting screened before being allowed into the country.
All of the stresses of travel, as well as the new customs and language, clearly didn't deter this mother and daughter as their strength and connection remained intact.
Sources: Library Of Congress, The Psychogenealogist, Austerity Housekeeping, Art Blart.com, Maire Curie.org, China Hush, Culturetrip.com, Study.com, CNE Heritage, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4181474/, Britannica