Boys' Clothing at Home: Activities


Figure 1.--Old photographs provide a wonderful record of period toys. Here we see not only a teddy, but an action toy--the acceptable term for a boy's doll. This unidentified American boy was photographed with two dear feiends in the early 20th century. He wears a kind of play suit.

There are a range of childhood activities thst are primarily associated with the home. One of the most popular feature of any nursery was the hobby horse. They came in many different times. Not every boy had one, they were expensive. Every Victoria and Edwardian boy, however, and some girls wanted one. People loved having photographs of their children made. The children often wanted the family pet in the portrait. This was a little complicated when the portarits were taken in the photographic studio. One very important activity. This activity varies greatly from family to family. Education and social class are major factors. Some children grow up in homes devoid of books and periodical publications. Other children grow up in homes filled with books. The Victorians and Edwardians, both children and mothers, loved to keep scrapbooks. In the Victorian and Edwardian era, it was comon to find the family scrapbook sitting prominently on a table, in a prominent part of the parlor. Children also kept scrapbooks, but theirs were not kept in the parlor. The limitations of photography in the 19th century limited the photograping of candid home scenes. Some available images, however, provide a variety of glimses of the 19th centutry home and the clothes worn at home. 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. There are some items that can not be called toys because they are more practical items. These are items that boys find interesting. Often we are taliking about older boys such as teengers, but younger boys can get started at an earlier age. Children don't really play with these items, but do tghings with them.

Hobby Horses

One of the most popular feature of any nursery was the hobby horse. They came in many different times. Not every boy had one, they were expensive. Every Victoria and Edwardian boy, however, and some girls wanted one. Many of the lucky boys who got a hobby horse developed a very close personal, imaginary relationships with their hobby horses. Often a boy's hobby horse was the center piece of his nursery. They were popular with boys up to 9 or 10 years of age. The hobbey horse may be one of the most traditional 19th Century toy. The modern viewer might consider it so traditional and so wholesome that it is hard to invision it as a controversial toy. Yet, the hobbey horse, like the bicycle, was sharply criticised my eminent scholars of the day.

Pets

People loved having photographs of their children made. The children often wanted the family pet in the portrait. This was a little complicated when the portarits were taken in the photographic studio. Still some were taken and they may be useful in identifying who is who in 19th century portraits. With the advent of the Kodak Brownie at the turn of the 20th century and family snap shots there was an explosion of photographs of children with the beloved family pet. This appears to have been a common trend throught Europe and America. Often these images show the family home as well.

Play

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

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.

Games

Games date back centuries, especially 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. Oter games nes 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 played indoors or outdoors like hide and go seek. Some could be adopted for both indoor and outdoor play. Some of these were strctly orgabized with rules. Otherwere more free form like pillow fights.

Sports


Reading

One very important activity. This activity varies greatly from family to family. Education and social class are major factors. Some children grow up in homes devoid of books and periodical publications. Other children grow up in homes filled with books. Books odf course are not cheap and thus there are sicil class factors. Education relatred to social class is a factor here. Fortunately libraries make books available children, but the parents interested in books are usually the same ones who bring their children to libraries. The development of libraries is an interesting story in itself. This occured lagely in the late 19th centurry. Many libraries developed special programs for children.

Scrapbooks

The Victorians and Edwardians, both children and mothers, loved to keep scrapbooks. In the Victorian and Edwardian era, it was comon to find the family scrapbook sitting prominently on a table, in a prominent part of the parlor. Children also kept scrapbooks, but theirs were not kept in the parlor. A variety of items might be included in these scrapbooks, including photographs, "scraps", lettters, postcards, clippings. pressed flowers, and much more.

Miscelaneous Home scenes

The limitations of photography in the 19th century limited the photograping of candid home scenes. Some available images, however, provide a variety of glimses of the 19th centutry home and the clothes worn at home.

Technology

There are some items that can not be called toys because they are more practical items. These are items that boys find interesting. Often we are taliking about older boys such as teengers, but younger boys can get started at an earlier age. Children don't really play with these items, but do tghings with them. Some examples are cameras, crystal sets (radios), han radios, micrscopes, telescope, ham radios, and other items. In recent years computers have been added to this list. These are items that girls can enjoy as well, but for some reason it is generally boys that have found technology interesting. A debate exists in America as to that difference is due to parents and teachers encouraging boys more.









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Created: 1:28 AM 10/21/2006
Last updated: 4:18 AM 1/28/2018