Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: May 18, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971935 | Print ISBN: 9781412966702 | Online ISBN: 9781412971935 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
United States, 1930 to 1960
The years from 1900 to 1960 were a golden era of unstructured play in the United States, but at the same time, the first half of the 20th century saw manufactured toys become part of the spreading consumer culture. In the early years of the period, childhood included canoeing, swimming, sandlot baseball, and just hanging around together, without parental or other adult supervision. Even increasing urbanization merely changed the settings of unstructured play, not the freedom of play itself. As play moved from woods and lake to streets and alleys, baseball and football became impromptu street games, and opening a water hydrant provided ample water for summer games. In the early years of the 20th century, streets were a refuge from overcrowded tenements with a shortage of ventilation. Mothers allowed even small children to roam the street until bedtime, because they were confident that the neighbors were keeping an eye ...