Family Rocking Chair

There is a timeless piece of family history that you should include in your collection of family artifacts. You may still have one or a photo – that is the family rocking chair.

It was a young Benjamin Franklin who was credited with its creation in the 1700s in America. They very quickly became popular with the wealthy and then appeared in homes in England by the late 1720s. These early ones were mostly used out in one’s garden. There had already been rocking horses and cradles that rocked, so it made sense to have regular chairs rock.

The early chairs, called rocking chairs or rocker, were made by skilled craftsmen so they could last for decades. The styles over the years have varied as well for whom one was made. Besides adults, small rocking chairs have been made for children. Wicker chairs were very popular in the mid-1850s. In the 1920s some rocking chairs were made to fold, so they could be used in outdoor activities or for travel.

Even President John F. Kennedy was famous for his rocking chair in the White House in the early 1960s. He had used such a chair, made by P & P Chair Co., since 1955 to help ease his back pain. He had many chairs (the AF One plane, Camp David, Palm Beach, etc). His White House chair is now on display at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

Many of the vintage chairs do have a crafter’s signature or stamp on the underside of the seat. The good chairs were made of maple, cherry, walnut or bird’s eye wood.

The rocking chair has been used to improving mental health to relieving pain, the rocking chair is a natural and effective way to help with many health conditions. Rocking is relaxing because it releases endorphins in the brain, which in turn improves mood and reduces stress. A reason also rocking a baby helps the child fall asleep.

Many styles of rocking chairs have been developed. One favorite is the wicker rockers with padded seats, which came in the early 1900s. Not all rockers had arms, many were without sidearms.

Photos: Rocker used outside in 1930s; Child’s rocker in 1949; rocker; rocker with no arms and JFK rocker in White House in 1962.

Related FamilyTree Blogs:

Early Inventions Still Used Today

Family History Ideas

Chairs at Dinner

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