100 Years – 100 Objects: Kodak Baby Brownie Camera

May 11, 2009

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Lisa Rebori, the Museum’s Vice President of Collections. She’s chosen a selection of objects that represent our Museum’s history, and our collections of historical technologies, that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org– throughout the year.

baby-brownie-resizedBaby Brownie cameras were one of the many varieties of the Brownie camera made for the Eastman Kodak camera company in the early to mid-1900s. This particular camera, designed by Walter Dorwin Teague in the art deco style, was patented and produced from 1934-1941.

Originally sold for $1.00, the plastic camera ran on 127 film (which was included) and produced 6 x 4 inch images. The Baby Brownie was mainly marketed towards children, and Kodak claimed it was so easy to use that “anybody, man, woman or child, who has sufficient intelligence to point a box straight and press a button” could take successful photographs.

Brownie cameras helped to launch photography as a hobby and the ‘snapshot’ was introduced. Since people no longer needed to understand the technicalities of cameras or the development of film in order to take a picture, cameras became a staple in the American home by the 1950s.

The small size, travel portability, and low cost of the Baby Brownie (developing film cost 40 cents per roll) allowed for a new use of the photographic medium – creating a new window into life in the home, at work, at leisure, and while traveling. Thus, photography was now spontaneous and no longer restricted to the rare family portrait or the work of an artist.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at 100.hmns.org

Authored By Steven Cowan

Steven never dreamed his first job out of college would be in public relations, and on top of that working for one of the top museums in the country. After all, he majored in History at Vassar College. Within three months of graduation, he landed a spot in the PR department and has not looked back since. He is fast becoming a communications fanatic, spending a tremendous amount of his time promoting the museum and all it has to offer.

One response to “100 Years – 100 Objects: Kodak Baby Brownie Camera”

  1. Ape says:

    I want one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Become An HMNS Member

With a membership level for everyone; Don't just read about it, see it.

View All Membership Levels

Editor's Picks Lou The Corpse Flower : Why He Smells So Bad And Why We Should Be Excited When He Blooms Wait Just A Minute! Let’s Take A Second To Talk About the Origin Of Time Keeping. The Krak Des Chevaliers: A Tough Nut To Krak Polar Dinosaurs Are Real And They Are More Adorable Than Elves Gosh that Corpse Looks Delicious: The Disturbing World of the Medieval Apothecary Hurricane Harvey Update
Follow And Subscribe

Equally Interesting Posts

HMNS at Hermann Park

5555 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston,Texas 77030
(713) 639-4629

Get Directions Offering varies by location
HMNS at Sugar Land

13016 University Blvd.
Sugar Land, Texas 77479
(281) 313-2277

Get Directions Offering varies by location
George Observatory

21901 FM 762 Rd.
Needville, Texas 77461
(281) 242-3055

Tuesday - Saturday By Reservation
Saturdays 3:00PM - 10:00PM
Saturdays (DST) 3:00PM - 11:00PM
DST = Daylight Savings Time.
Please call for holiday hours. Entry to Brazos Bend State Park ends at 9:30 p.m. daily
Get Directions Offering varies by location

Stay in the know. Join our mailing list.