19th Century Play

Ellis Tarlton Children on the Green Bicyclers on Wooden Bridge Gang on the Green


In the 19th century, children enjoyed some of the same outdoor activities as they do now, such as sledding and skating, playing tag and ball games. However, the play of girls and boys was dramatically different: girls were given needlework books, dolls, and miniature tea sets to practice for adult roles, while boys engaged in races, fistfights, and ball games, emphasizing competition and physical prowess. Even girls’ outdoor games differed from boys’; for instance, a hoop game called “The Graces” was intended to teach graceful movement.  

Games popular among Fairfield’s schoolchildren in the 1800s included:

Cross Tag

Puss in the Corner

I’m on Danny’s Land

Blind Man’s Bluff

Old Blood Tom and Run Sheep Run (similar to hide and seek)

Duck on the Rock (boys would collect round stones and try to knock wood off a rock)

Horn Away (skating across a line on the ice without being caught)