Tag Archives: sports

Leisure Time and Entertainment

As May is National Bicycle Month, we thought we would offer some drop-in lesson ideas that included the bicycle!

Wild West Shows, circus acts, and spectator sports such as baseballfootball, and tennis filled leisure time at the end of the nineteenth century. The Barnum & Bailey Shows even began to highlight cycling in their acts.

Try this lesson plan from EDSITEment! for ideas on “Having Fun” nineteenth century style. Or this issue of “Central Illinois Teaching With Primary Sources Newsletter” all about the circus.

National Bicycle Exhibition, Madison Square Garden, 1895.


Poster: Professional cycling, 1905.


Cartoon: Tennis and women in the 1870s.


Poster for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, “Annie Oakley and Johnnie Baker” 1898


Are you ready for some football?

Super Bowl Sunday is here! The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will face off on February 3rd for the championship. Take this opportunity to get your students engaged with primary sources.  The Marchand Collection is home to some great nineteenth century images of American football that will get students excited about spotting the differences between then and now.

This 1900 photograph of a coal yard pick-up game would not be that far off from one of kids playing today. Except, of course, for the location. Why would children be playing football in a coal yard?

Working class boys in a coalyard football game, PA, (1900)

College football, New Haven, CT (1900).

Another way to use these football primary source with your students is to discuss changes to the sport itself.  Take for example, this 1900 photograph of a New Haven, CT college football game.  Ask students to identify how the uniforms differ from today. Then ask them to use what they know of Progressive Era changes at the turn of the century to speculate on why the sport started to change their equipment.

Finally, how might this 1897 cartoon help students interpret the shift?

Death as “the twelfth player in every football game,” drawing (1897)