November 21, 2008

Before MTV, There Was Life Cribs


Here's a short thematic post from the archives of Life featuring some of the cribs of our parents' generation which serves as a roundabout tribute to the CPSC:

I'm guessing that after Leonard Mccombe's 1957 photo of "Babysitter Judy Fuss" was published, Miss Fuss found another career, one that involved fewer kids perched on one foot on the edges of their cribs.


In 1951, W. Eugene Smith shot a photo essay of the South Carolina midwife who presciently counseled her rural patients that a baby sleeping in a bed with other, larger children was at greater risk of suffocation. Safer to make a cradle out of a crate and let the bedding dangle into the stove. It was July, people!


Small BabyTender world! Was John Gray of Sea Cliff, LI the biggest Skinner Box mediawhore of the postwar era or what? Just a few months ago, magazine photos surfaced from March 1947 of Gray and newborn son, John Jr., in his homemade, B.F. Skinner-inspired babybox. Al Fenn's photos for Life are dated November 1947, and sure enough, little Johnny's doing fine. But now I wonder just how homemade Gray's BabyTender actually was. Did WWII really leave everyone with metal fabrication expertise and a garageful of surplus equipment?


And last, an awesome little photo from 1958 by Ed Clark. The official caption: "Sen. John F. Kennedy (L) playing peek-a-boo with his daughter Caroline in her crib." Yes, that's the senator on the left. Clark was one of Life's most celebrated photographers; I wonder whatever could have been on Kennedy's mind when he invited him into his newborn's nursery.

Hmm, according to this Camelot tour guide, JFK bought the house on N Street for Jackie to celebrate Caroline's birth. Kind of puts the whole push present idea into perspective, now, doesn't it?


Judging by the kid's outfit in the first photo he/she must be the spawn of circus performers...I don't think we need to worry about death or injury, there's probably a safety net below.

Ah, the memories the first photo brings back! My twins figured out how to climb out of their cribs before they were a year and a half old. We had to give up and let them play in the dark in their room until they fell asleep on each other; there was no keeping them down/in/contained!

That eight-inch high rail certainly would have kept him in, otherwise.

Oh, and FYI on the LIFE images: You are SO busted:

We are fine will personal non-commercial uses of our images, as long as:

a) Photographer and Credit is illustrated with each image in readable font, such as Joe Smith © Time Inc., Courtesy of

b) The blog or personal site contains no ads or commerce of any find

Jeff Burak
Director, Business Development - LIFE

.COM | Branded Products | Picture Collection | Picture Syndication

212-522-2114 (o)
917-374-7715 (m)
AIM: JeffLBurak

Hey Jeff,

Thanks for stopping by, and congratulations on the awesome archive publication.

I assume that since "SO busted" is not a legal definition under copyright law and since the claimed terms of use you mention are not anywhere I could find them on, or on the photo search or results pages themselves, you'll have someone in your office contact Daddy Types via email, at least, if you have a formal infringement issue you'd like to take up.

As you will notice, I have taken great care to use and reference LIFE's images in ways that comply with fair use doctrine. In every case where LIFE's images appear on DT, they are used to illustrate discussion and commentary of the image and its contents specifically and of the archive generally. In every case, the photographer is not only credited, but discussed and put into context in a way that furthers understanding of the creation of the image itself as well as the cultural milieu in which it came to fruition. Every LIFE photo that appears on DT is linked back to the search result page for that specific photo.

Furthermore, DT is assiduous about following the more recent fair use rulings about online replication of digital images by using low-resolution images of significantly reduced size compared to the original. In LIFE's case, for example, the resolution of each image is reduced 75% from 300pixels/in. to 72 pixels/in., and the displayed size is reduced to 300 or 400 px, at least n% reduction, suitable enough to give an adequate impression of the image being discussed, but consciously intended to not replicate or replace the higher-quality originals hosted by Google. In other words, every LIFE image on DT is commented upon, altered, and contextualized with the explicit purpose of encouraging readers to click through to visit the image on Google/LIFE.

The question of ads or commerce "of any kind" is not a standard supported by fair use doctrine; courts have readily acceded that completely non-commercial uses, even in critical or educational settings, are almost non-existent. That's a situation that has only compounded since LIFE's partner, Google, introduced its AdSense system that lets anyone put Google ads alongside the most personal, ostensibly non-commercial, non-professional content online. Since Google serves no ads on the pages where it displays LIFE's images, and since every DT reference to a LIFE image is intended to drive traffic to it, not to substitute or replace it, thereby only enhancing LIFE's own commercial offerings related to the photos, I can see no way that DT's discussion of LIFE images detracts from or limits the market for LIFE's images in any way. If there is some vital piece of evidence to the contrary, I hope you'll let me know.

Also, I think you're wrong about the rail, since the kid's clearly standing on it with one foot, and in motion to boot.

Greg Allen
the weblog for new dads
email is right up in the corner up there ^^.

Google DT

Contact DT

Daddy Types is published by Greg Allen with the help of readers like you.
Got tips, advice, questions, and suggestions? Send them to:
greg [at] daddytypes [dot] com

Join the [eventual] Daddy Types mailing list!



copyright 2018 daddy types, llc.
no unauthorized commercial reuse.
privacy and terms of use
published using movable type