Our Stuff, Ourselves

Exhibition Overview

The Tredwell family – Seabury and Eliza and their eight children – called the 4½ story brick row house at 29 East Fourth Street home for almost 100 years, from 1835 to 1933, when Gertrude, the youngest child and last family member, died in the front bedroom on the second floor.

The house became a museum in 1936, with its period rooms brimming with the family’s furnishings and personal belongings – sewing boxes, unfinished needlework, family photographs, china dishes, ironstone crocks, chamber pots, a portable tin bathtub, and dresses, shawls, fans, and petticoats. The Tredwell Collection comprises almost 4,500 items.

The family’s personal possessions provide a doorway into their private lives, revealing the tastes, interests, and values of a prosperous merchant family in mid-19th century New York.

In 2019, when we presented this exhibition at the Museum, we invited visitors to share what object in their home said the most about their lives. We received hundreds of answers, written on post-it notes – from art and books, to clothing and jewelry, with one honest visitor responding simply: “My Mess!”

What does your 21st century living space say about you?
Click here to leave a virtual post-it note.


..Our Stuff, Ourselves: An Intimate Look at the Tredwells’ Private Lives..




..Letter Writing..


..Personal Hygiene..

..Dressmaking & Sewing..

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