Presenting Our Past

Toys and Tots: Milwaukee Children’s Toys

Currently on display at the Milwaukee County Historical Society are a series of children’s toys that have been donated to MCHS by the County’s denizens. We’ve included several photos of the toys here, but to see all that we have to offer, stop by our location!

Milwaukee Boy Playing with Train Set

Milwaukee Boy Playing with Train Set

Royal Polish Princess Doll

Royal Polish Princess Doll

Toys are an important and memorable part of everyone’s childhood. There is always that special toy that you will remember for your entire life and Milwaukee children of the 20th century were no different. Some toys are very similar to the toys children play with today, such as dolls, cars, and board games. The MCHS possesses some very interesting toys that shed light on the lives of children throughout the 20th century.

Milwaukee was a highly diversified city in the late 19th and early 20th century. Two of the largest ethnic groups were the Germans and the Poles. Dolls often were used to help children understand their heritage. On display at MCHS are two ethnic dolls, one from Germany and one from Poland. One is a Royal Polish Princess doll from 1935. The German doll is from around 1900. They are both beautiful dolls who were given to young girls in order for them to connect with their past heritage.

Little Kitten Tiddlywinks

Little Kitten Tiddlywinks

Other than dolls, little boys also had planes, trains, car, and even a Harley-Davidson toy motorcycle. Milwaukee children also loved to play board games, as do children today! Tiddlywinks is a beloved game by many even to this day. In 1930, a version called Little Kitten Tiddlywinks first appeared. The concept behind this version is exactly the same as the original – throw tokens into holes in the board for certain number of points. Monopoly is another game that was as popular in 1946 as it is today.

Monopoly, Tiddlywinks, and other games can be seen on display at the MCHS. Toys are fun for children, but play an important role in understanding a culture. We all have toys that we love dearly and by looking at the toys of the 1900’s, we can understand and relate to history past.

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