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Public Playgrounds and Social Order

A common phrase is that history is written by the victors. One could also add that history is often written by, and for, adults.

Perhaps without even realizing it, we imagine historical actors as fully grown, with most of them occupying that space between childhood and advanced adulthood. But what of the infants, children, young adults, or even the elderly people who occupied important roles in the past? Where can we locate their stories, and how can we tell them?  The history of recreation is one way to access that history, for it was in America’s parks and playgrounds that these two groups received special recognition, indeed special places in the city.

This project is both a showcase and a spotlight. By exploring the resources curated here, visitors will be able to see how young boys and girls, older men and women, and all sorts of professionals, players, and politicians in between came to create the parks and playground system in Hartford.

Though historians have looked at the plans, speeches, and other paper records connected to parks systems, many have not delved as deeply into the visual records of these spaces. Using the wonderfully rich photographic records left behind by the parks department, this project provides a venue for better understanding people and parks. 


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