The History of the Rocking Chair

Rocking chairs bring us back to a time when life was simple in the early 18th century. Technology was not around and people spent time on their porches reading or enjoying each other’s company. What’s even more remarkable about the rocking chair is that it’s uniquely American and has a special place in culture. Although it is not certain, Benjamin Franklin is sometimes given credit for the invention of the rocking chair. The first uses of the rocking chair consisted of hospitals, the elderly, and nursing mothers (Trex Furniture). The Oxford English Dictionary did not even include “rocking chair” in the dictionary until 1787. In an article from the New York Times, Rita Reif states that rocking chairs were not even produced in large quantities until 1825. You can review some of the fun facts about rocking chairs by viewing the following video.

Additionally, please join us below as we break down the history of this iconic chair.

Different versions of the rocking chair have been created since then. A few different styles have stayed consistent and are still available and thriving today.

The Windsor Chair was the rocking chair to have during 1780-1820. This piece has a practical but simple look that was common in New England. A blog post from the Rocking Chair Company explains that this style rocking chair mostly resembled a typical dining chair at the time.

Windsor Rocking Chair

The Shakers, a religious sect that used to be part of a part of the Quaker community, began building a rocking chair that was considered Shaker style with slats on the seat back in either vertical or horizontal directions (Rocking Chair Company). This rocking chair began a standard American look reminiscent of a rustic feeling that was popular for years to come.

Fast forward to the early 20th century and two versions of the rocking chair established a consistent place in the furniture industry. The Colonial Revival rocking chair consisted of solid wood with beautiful carved patterns, making it a classic addition to your home. Furthermore, the modern look of the Mission rocking chair is more common nowadays, with durable solid wood and comfortable cushions.

Popular references in America’s culture propelled the longevity of the rocking chair for the future years. John F. Kennedy first began using a rocking chair to soothe his back pain and it became a common icon during his time as the president of the United States during the 1960s. Photos of him in a rocker became famous around the world. Harper Lee also portrays a southern landscape in To Kill A Mockingbird with multiple mentions of a classic rocking chair. Abraham Lincoln’s final moments were even spent in a rocking chair at Ford’s Theatre. Additionally, Hoagey Carmichael, an American composer and singer, also wrote a song titled “Rockin’ Chair” in 1929 that was popular at the time.

John F. Kennedy in one of his many rocking chairs
Abraham Lincoln’s rocking chair at Ford’s Theatre

These chairs, like our very own Santa Fe Rocking Chair, are nostalgic for traditional times. The chair is constructed of brown birch solid wood with a smooth microfiber seat in a fire tan color. The warm wood and the cozy upholstery signal a time to unwind in the comfort of your own home.

SUDE-04 Rocking Chair (1)_MEDIUM
Santa Fe Rocking Chair

We also have a few other rocking chairs that have a more modern touch and break free from the common classic style. The Susan Black Rocking Chair is upholstered in comfortable black leatherette with a simple chrome metal frame. The curved seat design resembles the foundation of a traditional rocking chair without the carved wood details.

Susan Black Rocking Chair

The Neilina Gray Rocking Chair is designed to withstand the elements of the outdoors. The durable powder coated aluminum construction is covered with wicker in light gray tones for a simple yet stylish look. The curved arms bring full relaxation whether you use this piece outside on your patio or indoors in a corner of your home.

Neilina Gray Rocking Chair

In essence, the rocking chair has been around since the early 1700s. It remains a constant part of American culture and can be the essence of relaxation in your home. We are interested in your feedback and would like to know what you think of our latest blog post by leaving a comment below. If you fell in love with rocking chairs after reading this, check out our selection by clicking here.

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