Playgrounds as Domestic Reform

Author(s): Renée M. Blackburn; Suzanne Spencer-Wood

Year: 2013


Playgrounds contributed to several domestic reform movements. Community mothering in playgrounds formed part of social settlements, the public cooperative housekeeping movement, and the municipal housekeeping movement. Playgrounds were also part of the public health reform movement and the Cult of Real Womanhood that promoted exercise  to strengthen the working class and to address the perception of women’s sickliness in the Cult of Invalidism. In the City Beautiful movement playgrounds and parks were created to morally reform men’s sinful capitalist cities of stone with green spaces that brought people in contact with God’s holy nature, which was associated with women. Reform women initiated the American playground movement in Boston in 1885 and spread playgrounds across the country. Playgrounds were surveyed in Boston and Detroit, showing that most have been abandoned, which along with discontinued physical education programs in schools, no doubt contributed to the current obesity epidemic in the US. 

Cite this Record

Playgrounds as Domestic Reform. Renée M. Blackburn, Suzanne Spencer-Wood. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428254)

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Temporal Keywords
1885 - 1940

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 156