Sitting for a Formal Photograph and Breastfeeding

In the Library of Congress archives, there are many photographs of Indian women with their babies in papooses. In all of the seated, formal pictures of women and their children I have seen, I have never seen a photo where the mother is freely breastfeeding her child. This photograph is quite interesting because although the woman was white, her husband was an Indian and she lived in an Indian village after being captured in her youth.

Her name was Cynthia Ann Parker (ca. 1825-ca. 1871) and in this photo she was nursing her daughter, Prairie Flower (Toposannah). Parker was captured by Native American Comanches as a teenager, later married Chief Peta Nocona and bore children including Quanah Parker, the last Comanche Chief.1860-1870.

Parker’s life is very interesting. If you’d like to learn more about her, click here.


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2 thoughts on “Sitting for a Formal Photograph and Breastfeeding”

  1. OH MY GOSH! That is so amazing! My family is related to the Parkers (we’re not sure to what degree), and I’ve seen that picture a million times, in history books all my life, but they only show her face. I recognized her immediately!

    Thank you so much for this, I can’t wait to send it to my aunt and grandmother!!! They will be so thrilled, I bet they haven’t seen the full picture either!

  2. Wow! What a great portrait and thanks for the story behind it. The above comment by Katherine is an added bonus. I can’t imagine seeing this photo, someone you were related to all your life – then suddenly seeing the whole thing! What a gift!

    Thanks, Jennifer- I am truly touched.

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