The Library of Congress > American Memory
banner image
return to home page table of contents about the guide abbreviations search banner image

The General Collections



Starting Places
Biographical Sources
Women's Writings
Other Sources
Etiquette Books
Sex Manuals
Gift Books and Annuals
Cookbooks and Domestic Journals
arrow graphicGame and Hobby Books
School Primers and Readers
College Catalogs




Game and Hobby Books
see caption below

Pastime for little fingers. Copyright 1881. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZC4-3216 (color film copy transparency)

bibliographic record

Works on recreational activities prove unusual sources for many historical research topics, such as:

  • sex roles
  • parental roles
  • education—both physical and moral
  • clothing
  • attitudes toward leisure and work
—to name a few.

In 1910, Harper's Handy-Book for Girls [catalog record] “points the way to all those delightful home arts and industries that the average girl loves,” including decorating her own room, arts and crafts (with “simple carpentering, woodcarving, and metal work”), needle fancy work, and embroidery.36

Because “every girl should regard the cultivation of some particular hobby as a necessity,” author Elizabeth Chesser, writing in 1914, recommends learning languages (for business and travel), gardening (for closeness to nature), and collecting (to develop taste and for possible profit).37

Often these books show how relatively easy it is to find information about white middle- and upper-class girls. Children from other groups played some of the same games and participated in similar activities, but a researcher would find that difficult to prove from the texts and illustrations in these volumes. Life stories told by former slaves put “leisure time” in perspective. One woman remembered playing hide-and-seek and see-sawing, but remarked, “we never did have very many games, cause Maser he put us to work soon as we got big enough to work.”38

see caption below

Girls in bloomers on climbing apparatus. Frances Benjamin Johnston, photographer. [1899?]. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZC4-2047 (color film copy transparency)

bibliographic record

Interest in women's sports blossomed in the last quarter of the twentieth century. More women and girls participated in sports from childhood to professional levels, and more authors wrote about them. Of the ten books in the General Collections on the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-54), all were published after 1992. Sports figures such as Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Jackie Joyner-Kersee penned their autobiographies, and others wrote biographies of them for adults and for children.

The Spalding Company, makers of sports equipment, issued a series of guides to promote athletics for women. The 1930 edition of Outdoor Baseball for Girls and Women [catalog record] recommends that baseball be “an important part of the sports curriculum of every American girl” and that it is “especially important for girls in that it offers a rich opportunity for training in social adjustment.”39 Because of good subject headings and published bibliographies, books on women's sports are usually easy to find.

The Library holds many books and periodicals on other topics related to recreational and leisure activities. A few subjects include: toys, dolls, exercise, sex discrimination in sports, physical education for girls, Title IX, and lesbians in sports.


Remley, Mary L. Women in Sport: An Annotated Bibliography and Resource Guide, 1900-1990. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1991. Z7963.S6 R45 1991 MRR Alc [catalog record].

Shoebridge, Michele. Women in Sport: A Select Bibliography. New York: Mansell, 1987. Z7963.S6 S56 1987 MRR Alc [catalog record].

Wilmeth, Don B. American and English Popular Entertainment: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. Z7511.W53 MRR Alc [catalog record].


Leisure—United States [or name of state]
Games for girls
Sports for women
[Name of sport] for women [or for children or girls]
Physical education for women [or children]
Sex discrimination in sports


GV439 for physical education for girls.

GV1201 and GV1203 for books and periodicals on games and hobbies.

These classes also include non-U.S. materials and books for men and boys. For many topics there are no subject headings solely for works on women and girls.

red line
Home Table of Contents About the Guide Abbreviations Search
The Library of Congress> > American Memory