Today’s post is guest authored by Michelle Cadoree Bradley, a Science Reference Specialist in the Library’s Science, Technology, and Business Division.
On a search for early materials on physical education for women, I stumbled across a small green book with an intriguing title – Broom Tactics, or Calisthenics in a New Form for Young Ladies. This publication from 1883 led me to an unexplored aspect of calisthenics — marching drills — and a little known subject of the drill teams called broom brigades and broom drill societies, which flourished in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
This short work by Lt. Hugh T. Reed prompted me to find what else was available for these brigades. I found other titles scattered though the collections, largely under the subject of “marching drills.” One was The Loyal Legion Drill Manual Illustrated by Lt. Jos. H. Barnett, (First Infantry, I. N. G.), published by the Woman’s Temperance Publication Association, 1886. (Barnett published this manual in 1885 as Barnett’s Broom Drill, Brigade Tactics, School of the Company, and Manual of Arms), which was reprinted in several editions, including this one from 1890.
The Loyal Legion Drill Manual Illustrated contains a few of my favorite images, such as the Order-Rear View, showing a monogrammed dustpan carried on the back in place of a pack. These and other illustrations are re-used and available for view on HathiTrust in Barnett’s Broom Brigade Tactics and Fan Drill.
Other works on calisthenics from the 1880s also contained sections on “broom drill.” For example, this work by Alfred Beale, Calisthenics and Light Gymnastics for Home and School (1888), includes a “broom drill” section with many supporting illustrations.
Perhaps interest in broom brigades and drills will re-spark and again “sweep the nation” as a form of fun exercise. If so, here are some titles on Marching Drills that are a must for any library.
- The Broom Drill. Including the School of the Soldier, School of the Company, and Skirmishing (New York, 1882). It is also available in A Dream of the Centuries and Other Entertainments for Parlor and Hall by Geo. B. Bartlett and others (Boston, 1889)
- Dances, Drills & Entertainments by Gertrude Williams Lundgren. 2nd ed. (1920)
- Drills and Marches; Written Exclusively for this Work by E. C. and L. J. Rook (Philadelphia, 1890)
- Fancy Drills for Evening and Other Entertainments by Edna Witherspoon (London, 1894)
- Ideal Drills; a Collection of Entirely New and Original Drills, Marches, and Motion Songs arranged by Marguerite W. Morton (Philadelphia, 1900)
- Wilson’s Book of Drills and Marches for Young People and Small Children of Both Sexes by B. M. Wilson (New York, 1895)