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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

The Ring: 1927

The Ring: 1927

Washington, D.C., circa 1927. "Holton-Arms School playground." So what game would this be? All I can think of is "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. But I'm pretty sure this isn't that. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.

 

Dodgeball

It's obvious they are playing dodgeball. You can even see the girl in the centre holding the ball, ready to throw it. The kid standing in the background on the seesaw is awesome, by the way!

Players

Kids DO still take advantage of playgrounds, for goodness sake! As a parent of a young'un I beg to differ. Any parent who has watched her child wait in line for the slide can back me up on that.

Teetering Tots

I had completely forgotten, until now, about the fine art of standing in the center of a seesaw and shifting your weight to raise and lower the ends. And what a confident, cute kid doing that!

Amateur Radio

As a long-time amateur radio enthusiast I couldn't help but notice the radio antennas on the roof. The one on the left has three parallel wires and the one on the right, four. This was a popular type of antenna used by radio amateurs back then. Which makes me wonder if the the school had a radio amateur club.

73, W4HBK

Listen well, people!

Little Girl: Today is our glorious day where we shall finally be heard! This ball represents the solidarity of the international proletariat, one of nature's perfect shapes! Let us take the school and exercise our own beliefs!

A Rare Spectacle

Organized play activity without adult supervision...how rare!

Play break

Why do we lose our sense of play. All jobs should have recess where everyone goes outside and plays.

FITD

My best guess would be Farmer in the Dell. Harks back to my Catholic school days.

Name of the Game

Probably something they called Holton-Hands.

Hold-up Arms

The tuition, including lunch, for the 2008-2009 school year is $27,200 for grades 3-6; $28,500 for grades 7-12. (!)

The Jaunty Lad

The confident kid posed astride the back seesaw gets my vote for class president.

Funtime

A time when kids still took advantage of playgrounds. Today the only playgrounds that a busy are dog parks. Kids are too busy playing games on their computers.

Holton Girls

Sixty-four years after this picture was taken, I graduated from National Cathedral School, the girls-school rival to Holton Arms. There was a playground game called "Shake It Senorita" that looked just like this. The gal in the middles shakes it while the ring sings this song.

Sixty-four years may seem like a long time, but traditions at girls' schools last a long time. In the 1980s there was still something called a "bloomie check" even though nobody there had worn bloomers for at least 40 years.

Old-school dodgeball

That looks like the way we used to play dodge ball, not the Ben Stiller movie style. The circle owned the ball. One kid would be in the middle. The circle would throw the ball to try to bean the poor soul. If he caught it, the person that threw it had to go in.

Expressions

You've got to admire the exquisite boredom of the girls on the teeter-totter; the courageous stance of the conquerer of balance and gravity standing midships; and the puzzled or forthright gazes of most of the circle. Bonus points for Lenny, there: "Ow! I ain't supposed to get sun in my eye!"

Steve Miller
Someplace on a playground near the crossroads of America

All Fall Down

Looks like something akin to ring-around-the-rosy.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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