Never before available for public view, The Baby’s Biography: Theodor Seuss Geisel features the book in which Henrietta “Nettie” Seuss Geisel recorded the childhood milestones of her son, Ted Geisel, who would grow up to be Dr. Seuss.
Many baby books are half filled in, abandoned soon after they are begun, but not this one. Nettie kept Ted’s baby book with meticulous care. Filled with gems like first tooth, first word, first steps, the book also contains notes from Nettie about Ted’s music lessons and birthday parties. It even includes a page of Ted’s increasingly artistic signature over the years.
Nettie was, by all accounts, a remarkable mother, who sang rhyming songs to her children and, instead of scolding young Ted when he drew on his wall, praised and encouraged his talent. Ted Geisel said of his mother that her warmth and playfulness cast a glow over his childhood.
As a girl, Nettie Seuss had hoped to attend college. However, her father needed her help in the family bakery, so she did not leave for school. She married Theodor R. Geisel, the brewer’s son, and together they nurtured a loving family. Ted Geisel stated that it was his mother who was responsible for, “the rhythms in which I write and the urgency with which I do it.” The rhythm of Dr. Seuss’s stories, along with their rhyming, suspense, humor, and whimsical illustration all added up to the books that revolutionized reading. And, it all started with a mom who adored her children.
The book, titled “The Baby’s Biography,” is a volume that was mass produced at the turn of the century and cost about $3, which was quite a lot of money for the time it was purchased. The artwork is plentiful and sweet, by the prolific illustrator Frances Brundage (1854-1937), who supported her family after her father’s death by drawing and painting pictures, mostly of adorable children and babies, which were often printed as postcards.
The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss is the first and only museum dedicated to Springfield native, Theodor Seuss Geisel. The book will be displayed on the second floor of the museum in a sealed case to protect its fragile paper pages, while images of book pages will be projected on the gallery wall. Visitors will learn about Ted’s first steps, first tooth, first word—most importantly they will get a glimpse into the family life of the boy who would become the man who made reading fun.