*** United States boys clothes: activities

United States Boys' Clothes: Activities

toy gun
Figure 1.--A major milestone for many American boys was getting their first gun, a BB-gun. This boy got his BB-gun at age 6 in 1908. The BB-gun issue was made into a wonderful film, "A Chrimas Story". The shift from a rural to an urban society, however, have gradually changed attitudes toward guns.

American boys have been photographed both at work and at play showing varying fashions over time. Boys have traditionally learned various crafts. Poor boys have earned money shining shoes. School and play became increasingly important in the 29th century. Images exists of boys playing games. American boys have been photographed with bicycles, marbles, group games like hide and seek, mummeldipeg, and others. Important activities include art, choir, dance, music, pets, school, Scouting, sports, and much more. Chemistry and erector sets used to be of great interest. Today of course it is the computer. Especially important activities for American boys are hunting and fishing, although this has declined somewhat as America continues to urbanize.

Specific Activities

We notice a wide range of activities in which American boys participated. Of course school is one of the most important, especially in the 20th century. . Many children in the 19th cebtury had to work rather than go to school, although progressive legislation in the early 20th century limited this. And for many American families, religion was very important. There are a range of fine art activities that mother in particular promoted. The expanding economy and a new affluence meant that more an ,ore American parents could afford lessons in music and dance and other fine art activities. Boy chours became very popular in the lae 19th century. Sports were of course popular with the boys and began to take their modern form in the 19th century. There were also play and other unorganized activities. An important American tradition was for fathers and sons to enjoy together outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. And children such imemorial have enjoyed pets. A range of technical activties have fascinated boys, like photography, radio, and computers. A 20th century innovation was the introduction of youth groups with organized activity programs.


We have begun to collect information on activities over time. We do not know much about the 18th century. There were toys, but mostly home made toys. Sports were not yet well developed, especially in frontier America. Hunting and fishing were popular activities. Most Americans lived in rural areas and this of course affected the activities in which they engaged. Chores on the farm would have been high on he list. Major changes occurred in the 19th century. America was still mostly rural at the beginning of the century. This farm chores and hunting and fishing were major activities. The public school system steadily increased in importance, so school became increasingly important. Urbanization and industrialization brought important cjanges. We see more manufactured toys, both wood and cast iron. Hoops were popular throughout the 19th century. Sports grew in importance and were very popular by the end of the century. The 20th century brought more change and with more than half of the population living in cities, hunting and fishing began to decline in importance. Toys became increasibngly sophisticated. A range of vehichles were built for children. And of course as child labor laws were passed, work became less important and school grew in imprtance. Currently we only have a page on the 1920s.


The age of children of course significantly affected the activities they pursued. The interests and abilities of children suignificntly chasnge as tthey grow older. This involvs both learning a skills that they master.


Another major factor in children's play is gender. Leading figutes in trhe women's movement would have us bneliece that therre are no inherent differences between boys girls amifested in play (dolls, toy guns, ect.). For ideological reasons, there is a desire ton pretebnd that boys and girld, menm and weomen are not different. This is stunning because it is women that are the primary care tskers of young children. And only a ideologically woman can fail to see the obviious inherent differences beyween boys and girkls. Of course many of the majofr leaders of the woman's movenment are not alkl that interested un family abnd children abnd ghus do not iobserve the behvior of small children at first hand. Now this is not to say that parental and other social influences are a factor/ And it is true that some boys like to play with dolls and that some girls (but not so many) like to play with toy guns. But the simple fact is that the vast majority of boys prefer toy guns and other action toys. While the vast majority of girls prefer to play with tolls and other care giving toys. ASnd wehile social influences enhasnce these preferences they do not create them. This issue has maifested itself in American politics when Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson refused to answer the simple question, "Are men and women different?" (2022) Refusing to understand the inherent differences is leading to very poor social policies, especially in schools.

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Created: October 17, 2002
Last updated: 5:34 PM 1/21/2023