* boys clothing for activities : home activities

Boys' Clothing at Home: Play

Figure 1.--This 1898 stereo view illustrates a game familiar to modern children--the pillow fight. At the turn of the century it is something a large family could do. Toay it is more of a sleep-over event. But we think it is a fairly modern game. Only with the Industrial Revolution was the wealth created that allowed chilren to grow up not only with comfortable beds and bedding, but to roughly treat their bedding with a pillow fight. The T. W. Ingerson company provided a wide range of steroviews, including domestic scences showing children playing like the one here.

Of course what children want to do is play. And younger children mostly played in the home or around the home. Unfotunately because photography was so complicated, we have relatively few photographic play images from the 19th century. There are drawing and paintings, but few photographs. This changed st the turn-of-the 20th century with the appearance of the Kodak Brownie. Suddenly we have all kinds of snapshots of children playing a good example is American boys Robbie McGregor and Everett Tallmadge playing in Everett's back yard. There is both individual play and group play. Most chilren want to play with other children, but play by one's self has to be considered. And there is play with toys as well as games. Toys could involve both indiviual and group play, but games for the most part involved other children. In the 19th century, sports were not as important as they became in the 20th century. All sorts of games were much more important in the 19th century, especially for the younger children and girls. In the 20th centurysports became much more important and were organized either at school or by clubs/leagues. Here age, chronology, demographics, economics, gender, nationality, and social class are all factors. Games dateback centuries. Sports as we know them, expecially, for children, are primarily a 19th century phenomenon, many emerging from Britain. Rural children often had trouble playing sports, because they lived so far apart and had difficulty making up teams. Poor chidren had less tome for play. And some wellto-do children were taised in isolation from other children outside the family.


Toys have been found in ancient civilizations. The ancient Roman children loved toys and games. The popularity or at least the availability of toys declined in the general economic decline after the fall of Rome. Toys again begin to become more plentiful as the economy of western Europe develops. As late as the 18th and early 19th century, however, there was a general consensus that toys and games were wasteful indulgences and that even young children should be involved in more beneficial activities. This attitude had begun to significantly change by the 19th century and the Victorian era. The popularity of toys increased greatly in the 19th century as modern concepts of childhood began to form and play as an activity for children became more accepted.


There are all kinds of games children play and enjoy. Here we are talking about a form of play, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided variously by skill, strength, or luck. Here we are usung the American meaning. The British meaning of sport is considered seaparately. And these iunclude both outdoor and indoor games. There are also active games meaning physical movement of some kind and more sedentary games like board games and cards. The active games are primarily outdoor games and the sedentary games are primarily indoor games. Games date back millenia, although our knowledge of thos cames and their imprtance is more recent. Until modern times the productivity of man was limited. This significantly affected childhood. Most children from a very early age had to work to support the family. This mean that there was not a lot of time for play and games. And attitudes toward play itself varied over time. Western parents came to see play as wasteful and discoraged it, favoring more productive activities like work and study. This attitude did not begin to change until the Englightenment (18th century). As a result, most of the cames we are familar come down from the 19th century Victorian era. To the extent they had earlier origins we are not sure. But the huge expamsion of wealth as a result of the Industrial Revolution meant that more and more children actually had the opportunity to play and enjoy games. Some of the most popular games were ring games. With industrialization and urbnization many older games were pratuced and new ones developed. Some games were played at home for parties like musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey. Other games were played on the sreet like hop-scotch, jump rope, marbles, and penny toss. The girls games tended to be copperative while the boys' games more competitive. Some could be adopted for both indoor and outdoor play. Some of these were strictly organized with rules. Otherwere more free form like pillow fights.


Sports and athetics are primarily a modern phenomenon. The most notable ancuent tradition came from the classical world--ancient Greece where the Olumpics were born. It is notable that the birth place of freedom was also the birth place od sports and athletics. There is a relationship here which is observavle in our modern age. The idea of atletics and sport largely came from Britain and America, the two countries which most imbodies Capitalism (economic freedom) and democract (political freedom. The reason fir this is that capitalism generated wealth and economic prosperity. This mean tht ordinary individuals had the fee time and leasure to practice and enjoy sports and athletics. People living in poverty have to devote all their energy to mere subsitence. There are also fashion ramofications. Some of the most popular clothing worn by boys are sports uniforms. Organized sport for boys is a relatively recent phenomenon. Many modern sports have a history dating back to the 18th century or ealier. Organized professional teams attracting spectators and with uniformed players, however, did not appear until the 19th century. This was in part a result of the economic expansion of industrial Europe which generated increasing income and more leisure time. School teams began to be organized by British private schools after the mid-19th century. But organized youth sports for the most part are a 20th century development.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main hone page]
[Return to the Main activities page]
[Introduction] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Photography]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: 4:46 AM 1/28/2018
Last updated: 1:43 AM 6/12/2019