One of my favorite memories of visiting my grandparents’ house during summer vacation is my grandpa teaching me to play croquet in the side yard. I became nostalgic for those summer days when I came across this Civil War era photograph of a group playing croquet in Washington D.C.
I decided to search the collections further for images of backyard games. I discovered that the playing of lawn games stretches back centuries. For example, the image on the left is a Japanese woodcut print depicting a badminton game played over 200 years ago. The same game is shown on the right in this 1930s photo of a badminton match.
Another very old game, played during Roman times and still enjoyed today, is bocce ball. A wave of Italian immigration at the turn of the century brought bocce ball to the United States where it became a popular entertainment.
Though I enjoy these activities as well as more modern yard pastimes such as cornhole or ladder ball, my favorite lawn game is still croquet. Playing croquet makes me feel connected to the past, my own and that of generations before me.
Do you have any favorite lawn game memories?
- Enjoy sheet music from the 1870s written about croquet from the Music Division.
- View other images of various lawn games in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.
- Explore more about the history of leisure activities in America through videos from the Motion Picture, Broadcast and Recorded Sound Division.
- Look through the Farm Security Administration Collection subject index where you will find a listing of photos of “outdoor games”.