|History of Playgrounds
In the latter part of
the 1800's a national reform movement began which was dedicated to women's
suffrage. An offshoot of this crusade was the Mothers' and Children's Movement.
This movement flourished until the end of the 1920's and was responsible
for the passage, mostly at the state level, of a series of policies designed
to protect children in the labor force and to support schools, playgrounds,
and kindergartens. The backbone of the reform movement was the many social
groups and voluntary organizations patronized largely by married women.
By creating a moral imperative and a sense of common cause at the state
and local level, the women's organizations set the agenda and pressed through
a whole series of social policies for children and families in the early
20th century. This was an amazing feat considering that women did not even
have the right to vote!
|Design of playground equipment
recommended by the
Department of Public Instruction of Virginia, circa 1916.
Within a short period of time, some of the better known schools for teachers began to pay attention to the development of playgrounds and recreation. In 1912, the University of Virginia Summer School for teachers began educating "county school teachers in equipping their own yards with playground apparatus." The University designed and constructed a "fine playground" to illustrate and supplement the classroom instruction in playground methods. The equipment was used constantly during the six weeks of summer school session, and then was dismantled and stored away to be used again at subsequent sessions. The apparatus included: a sandbox or sand pile, a balancing tree, jump standards, a see-saw, a slide, a swing frame with sliding poles and ladder, a flying dutchman, and a giant stride. All of the equipment was home-made and inexpensive. According to state government records the boys and girls of Charlottesville duplicated some of this apparatus at their own homes and in vacant lots around town.
(Sources: Playground Proceedings I, National Recreation Association, 1907; Recreation Legislation, Russell Sage Foundation, 1911; Virginia Pamphlets Vol. 34, "Play and Athletics," Virginia Department of Public Instruction, 1913.)
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