Travel back in time


Naper Settlement brings the 1880s to your computer

Photo courtesy of Naper Settlement Players have fun learning about life in the 19th century through a new CD-ROM, Trading in Time: Bartering and Buying in the 1880s.


Susannah is celebrating her seventh birthday and her parents have given her permission to spend the money she gets on a ticket to the circus. But the ticket will wipe out most of her money, without enough for a treat at the show. Her parents tell her she can earn additional cash-five cents for churning butter.

That's the way things went in the 1880s, according to a new computer game developed by Naper Settlement, west suburban Naperville's living museum of the 19th century. The CD-ROM, Trading in Time: Bartering and Buying in the 1880s, asks players to choose a character and see the 19th century through his or her eyes.

My 10-year-old daughter, Sarah, says the game is "cool" because it allows her to go back in time. I like it because it gives Sarah a glimpse of history without her knowing it's educational.

A collaboration with Purple Monkey Studios, an interactive media company in Oak Park, the CD-ROM offers players seven different characters and asks them to make choices and acheive a goal.

Sarah chose to follow Susannah's life, deciding how she would spend her 26 cents in birthday money and how she might earn the additional coins she wants. Sarah proved too frugal: She got Susannah to the circus, bought her a root beer and ended the adventure with three cents left over.

Debbie Grinnell, curator of exhibits and research at Naper Settlement, says the game is geared to children ages 7 to 12, but it has "elements to appeal to a broad spectrum of visitors." For example, younger children can print out and color pages, then return the finished artwork to Naper Settlement for a stick of candy. The game sells for $24.95 at the Naper Settlement Museum Store.

And while you are there, Naper Settlement's annual Christmas Memories festivities are Dec. 19-21. The newly renovated Martin Mitchell Mansion will be decorated for the holidays, there will be lots of goodies and old-fashioned crafts for children to do, along with plenty of holiday entertainment and horse and carriage rides. Festivities are from 4 to 9 p.m. each night. Cost is $8 for adults, $5 for children and $7 for seniors. Members and season pass holders get in free.

Naper Settlement is at 523 S. Webster St., the corner of Aurora Avenue and Webster Street. General admission is $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for seniors, and $4 for children ages 4-17. For information, call (630) 420-6010 or visit

Kari Osier

Kids Eat Chicago

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