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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

A constant
panoram a o f hills
and valleys as
seen from a
ridge road

A road lovely
in M a y hut almost
im passable
in winter

T ypical rural
area between
the hills where the
road follow s
the creek
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

W. N. DOAK, Secretary

C H IL D R E N ’ S B U R E A U




Bureau Publication No. 208


For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

------------ Price 20 cents
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Letter of transmittal_____________________________________
Introduction______ _____________________ I I I I
Purpose of study____________ ________ I I I . I I I I I I I I
Counties chosen for the survey______________________
Method of inquiry____________________________
Types of communities visited________________ I I I _ I I _ _ I I I
Rural communities__________________________
The children______________________________
General characteristics and environment_____________
Number interviewed____________________
Age---------------------------- ---------------- I __________" " "
Grade______________ !_____________________
Type of school attended_______ _________________
Location of homes_____________________________
Work time and play tune of children interviewed_____
Home chores and other work____________________
Leisure time during school term_________________
Recreational opportunities and the use made of them_____.
Hom e________________
Playmates__________ ____________________________
Home facilities______________ _______________
Outings___ :________ _________________
Recommendations__ _ __ _______________________
Church_________________ j_____ _______
The social programs of the churches_____________
Contributions of churches to social life of children.
S c h o o ls ________ _____________________
Location and kinds_______________________ _
Equipment_______ _______ __________I I II II_ _ I_ I"
Program_____________________________ '
Recommendations____________________________ ”
Juvenile clubs______________________ _____ ~
Kinds and number______________________
The 4-H club__________ _______________________ ~
Other national organizations_____________________
Adult organizations_________________________
Women’s clubs and community organizations____
Parent-teacher organizations_____________________
Lodges and fraternal orders______________________
Other recreational agencies________________ I I ___ III_I
Commercial amusements_________________ I I ____ I
Parks and playgrounds_________________________
Community buildings______________ I I I I I I I _ _ I _ _
Loafing places________________________ jf 'I I I I I I I I
Recommendations______________________ I
Special interests expressed by the children.” _ _ I "I







Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Facing page
Shacks may harbor early settlers or border raiders— ------------_
_ _ _
Jumping rope on a narrow school walk-------------------------- ----------53
Flaying wood tag on a narrow ouiy uem. uic
A school in the woods witn no cleared space j.ui gaxuco
A large scnooi yard wiin nu cquiymuni-------- —
A small town playground equipped uui uu&ujjci. viocu— — - .
A small village school with a good playground------------------------ _______

A constant panorama of hills and valleys--------------- -------------------A road lovely in May but almost impassable in winter----------Typical rural area between the hills-------------------------------------------

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


U nited S tates D epartment of L abor,
C hildren ’ s B ureau ,

Washington, November 11^, 1931.
S ir : There is transmitted herewith a report of rural recreation in

West Virginia, which was made at the request o f the director o f the
extension division o f the college of agriculture, West Virginia Uni­
versity. The report deals with the amount of leisure rural children
have and the kind of recreation they now enjoy, and the outlook for
extension and betterment of rural recreational programs. The field
work was carried out and the report written by Ella Gardner and
Caroline E. Legg under the general supervision o f Agnes Hanna,
director o f the social-service division o f the Children’s Bureau. Miss
Gardner, who is the specialist in recreation o f the Children’s Bureau,
has during the past three years devoted most o f her time to demon­
strations at 4-H club camps and to classes and institutes for rural
recreation leaders organized and under the direction o f the extension
service o f the United States Department o f Agriculture and the
cooperating State extension services. She is familiar with the
recreation needs and interests o f rural children.
Acknowledgment is made o f the cooperation given the bureau
by the West Virginia Extension Service, as well as teachers and
other school officials and recreational leaders in the counties visited
in connection with the preparation o f this report.
Respectfully submitted.
G race A bbott, Chief.

Hon. W. N. D o a k ,
Secretary of Labor.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Education for life as a whole is the chief activity o f youth.
Wholesome living includes not only satisfying work but also satisfy­
ing leisure. Many individuals need to expand their ideas o f educa­
tion to include not only training for earning a living but also prep­
aration for living a full life.
Normal boys and girls should play. It is said by some earnest
parents and teachers, “ Give a child plenty o f work, make him do it,
and he will not get into mischief.” Perhaps he will not, but neither
will he know abundant life. There are others who say, “ The country
child is fortunate ; he lives in a beautiful and healthful world. I f he
does chores outdoors, he needs no other recreation.” The country
child does live in a beautiful world ; but unless he is introduced to its
possibilities and can call birds by their names and become acquainted
with trees, flowers, and rocks, he is very likely to fail to recognize
his natural wealth. To exercise in the open air and sunlight is
healthful, but work is work wherever it is done. There should be
work, but there should also be play, because it is a balance between
these activities that makes for a well-developed child.
Every child needs first a family background in which he can find
understanding and affection, a circle in which he is expected to
assume his share o f responsibility and in which worthy contributions
o f service are appreciated. He needs the regular daily round o f
home life and play that sets his tempo for growing up. Uncertainties
may appeal to adventurous adults, but the feeling o f security that
comes from a smoothly running regime is necessary to a child’s hap­
piness. He finds excitement and variation enough in the small
happenings, o f much importance to him, occurring within the daily
round o f school work, home chores, and recreation at school and at
The child’s world, however, should not be limited to the home.
There are those who think that because their children are closely
supervised at home and are encouraged to stay within the family
circle, they are being given the fullest opportunity to grow up well.
This is not at all true'. Outside o f the daily chores and the school­
room studies there are many worth-while activities that add zest to
life and prepare the child for the larger world in which he is to live
some day. I f he is to do team work with others when an adult he
must learn in his youth how to play the game. He needs opportuni­
ties for meetings o f various sorts with his own kind. He needs the
discipline, the relief from the pressure o f daily duties, the exhilara­
tion o f success, and the determination engendered by defeat, which
come from playing outdoors with a group. He needs the self-control,
the ability to think and express himself clearly, the thoughtfulness
of the interests o f others, that are best developed by membership in
club and class groups. He needs the inspiration o f hearing and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



discussing with his kind good sermons, lectures, and informal talks
upon daily problems and their solutions. As an individual he should
have leisure in which to cultivate these activities and solitude in
which to sort and evaluate the ideas accumulated.
The rural child is often far removed from playmates except those
he sees during school hours. Farm life makes demands on the time
o f children and adults alike. It is probable that real planning is
necessary in many farm homes to give children the needed amount
o f leisure at the proper time and to provide for the wisest use o f that

The present study o f leisure-time activities o f West Virginia boys
and girls was made in 1928 at the request o f the director o f the State
agricultural extension service. It was desired to ascertain the amount
o f leisure that rural young folks had and the kinds of recreation that
they enjoyed. Specific information was wanted on the play facilities
in rural communities and in near-by towns. The State extension
service was interested not only in parks, playgrounds, and com­
mercial amusements, but more particularly m the opportunities for
play in the home, and the social programs o f churches, schools, clubs,
and other community organizations. In connection with the pro­
grams o f these various agencies, information was also desired on the
types o f leadership available and the sources o f inspiration, past and
present, that led club and other recreation leaders to undertake the
work in which they were engaged. It was felt that the assembling
o f some general information o f this kind was necessary before plans
could be formulated for the extension and betterment o f the rural
recreational program o f the State.

The territory selected for the survey covered the larger part o f 12
school districts in 5 counties, these being the 4 counties o f the north­
ern panhandle—Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, and Marshall—and 1 non­
contiguous county, Webster, in the central part o f the State.
The general nature of the panhandle counties may be described as
hilly, increasingly so away from the Ohio River, which forms their
entire western boundary line. In some sections the hills are partly
wooded; in others, especially toward the south, they are more like
vast rolling pasture lands. From the main roads along the ridges
many square miles o f open country may be seen. In the valleys
between the hills the roads follow the creeks and form picturesque
settings for many rural homes.
Except in or near the industrial towns along the river, where many
are employed in the iron, steel, brick, and clay industries, and in
Marshall County, where natural oil and gas deposits have been
worked to some extent, the principal occupation o f the people o f the
northern panhandle is farming. According to the 1925 farm census,
corn, oats, wheat, and potatoes are the largest crops, besides the
garden vegetables which most o f the farmers raise for their own
consumption. Orchard fruits, particularly apples and peaches, are
also raised extensively. Among the most important agricultural
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



pursuits are dairying and the raising o f beef cattle and sheep. Mar­
shall County raises more sheep than any other county in the State.
Webster County is situated in the east-central part o f the State on
the western edge o f the Appalachian Range and is in a rugged moun­
tainous country. Much less farming is done in this county because
physical conditions discourage it. Extensive areas o f forest and
immense deposits o f coal are found here, but the latter are only
developed to a slight degree. The principal industry is lumbering,
many o f the little villages being built up around logging camps. The
Gauley, Elk, and Williams Rivers are aids to this industry.
The extent to which the areas visited may be termed rural is easily
seen from some comparative statistics on farm lands in 1925 in the
different counties and in the State. (Table 1.)
T able 1.— Certain statistics concerning farm s in the State and in p ve selected
counties o f W est Virginia, 1 9 2 5 1


Per cent of land area in farms. __________
Average value of all farm property per farm.
Average acreage per farm............................
Total acreage in farms__________________ 8,979,847
Per cent in crop land________________
Per cent in pasture land________ ____
Per cent in woodland not used for pasture............................... .......................
Per cent in all other land____________
Total number of farms__ ____ ___________
Per cent of farms located on—
Improved dirt roads. .................
Unimproved dirt roads...................
All other roads (including not
reported)____ ________________


Hancock Marshall






$11, 528













( 2)



( 2)






1U. S. Census of Agriculture, 1925, Pt. 2, Tables 1 and 2, pp. 214-229. Washington, 1927.
2 Less than 1 per cent.

The percentage o f land area devoted to farms in three of the four
counties o f the panhandle (Brooke, Hancock, and Marshall) was
greater than for the State as a whole. The average acreage per
farm in these three panhandle counties and in Webster County was
also more than the average for the State.
The farm country visited was fairly prosperous. The homes and
buildings were for the most part neatly kept and in good repair, not
only on the farms but in the rural towns and villages, where many
o f them were owned by the farmers. About many o f the homes
was a settled atmosphere that came from long living in one place,
several generations having been reared in the same house. The
average value o f farm property per farm in each of the panhandle
counties was more than the average for the State, and m Brooke
and Ohio Counties it exceeded the average value quoted for the United
States, which was $8,949 in 1925.1
The percentage of farm acreage devoted to crops, pasture, and
woodland is also shown in Table 1. It will be noted that more than
1U. S. Census of Agriculture, 1925, Pt. 2, Table 2, p. 16.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



half the acreage in farms in Webster County was woodland not used
for pasture.
This table also shows the percentage of farms located on improved
and unimproved roads. The proportion of the farms located on
hard-surface roads was much larger in the four panhandle counties
than in the State as a whole. The road conditions in Ohio County
were exceptionally good. In Webster County, where conditions in
general were much more primitive, more than four-fifths (85 per
cent) o f the farms were located on dirt roads, one-fifth on improved
and more than three-fifths on unimproved dirt roads. The territory
thus surveyed included various rural conditions that were representa­
tive o f those in the State as a whole. Quite similar conditions are
found also in the adjacent farm lands o f Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The natural beauties o f the West Virginia hills and their history
have been the theme o f many a song and story. The sections visited
teemed with traditions o f days when the first white settlers fought
their way against hostile Indians and o f later Revolutionary times
when Ohio County and its environs were the scenes of dramatic
episodes. Many thrilling tales o f pioneer days may be heard from
the mountain folk o f Webster County. Older still are the traditions
o f Marshall County, where in the city o f Moundsville stands one of
the most famous o f the monuments left by that ancient people, the
mound builders.
Thus the territory in which the recreation survey was made was not
poor either in material wealth or in historical lore. It was not in
any sense run down or struggling to recover from disasters wrought
by wind and floods, as are certain vast sections o f the rural South.
Neither was it like the rural sections of many Western States, so far
removed from the manufacturing and commercial world as to pre­
vent acquaintance with city organizations and forces that make for
broader culture and more all-round living. There was probably as
great an opportunity for the penetration o f these forces into sur­
rounding rural districts in the counties studied in West Virginia as
in any rural section o f the State or adjacent States.

This study o f the leisure-time interests o f young folks was con­
ducted through the schools by interviews with the children. Infor­
mation was also obtained as to the social resources o f the com­
munities. In the 12 selected districts visits were made in practically
all the towns and villages.2 As many rural communities were visited
as could be reached before the beginning o f the school vacation,
which in some instances was as early as the middle o f April. Some
roads still impassable at this time forbade entrance into a few o f
the most remote communities. However, a goodly number o f the
isolated schools were visited in spite o f the difficulties, because when
mud was too deep or hillside roads too narrow to permit the Govern­
ment car to pass, the agents resorted to hiking. This proved to be
the only way to reach 16 o f the 75 schools visited during the 3-month
survey. Even hiking presented its difficulties, with rough, hilly
roads to climb, creeks to cross, and mud to contend with at all times,
a v i S ^ d " n n % i h Pi n ^ community with 100'.but less than 1.000 inhabitants is called
an(* °2e with 1,000 or more inhabitants is called a town. All the Villases visited
in this survey, however, had a population of less than 500.
villages visited
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



as snow and rain fall heavily in these regions. Progress in these
more remote regions was necessarily slow, but it left the agents with
little doubt as to how some o f the time of certain country boys and
girls was consumed.
In connection with the school visits, personal interviews were held
with the boys and girls between the ages o f 10 and 18 who were
present on the day of the agent’s visit. The schedule called for
a few facts about the child and his family and the location o f his
home. His record as a club member was taken if he had belonged
to any organization during the previous year. The social life
offered by the school and church, as far as he attended affairs given
by these agencies, and the activities he enjoyed with his playmates
at home and at school were recorded. Family recreation, both active
and passive, the amount o f time the child spent in play and work,
and the character o f his chores were inquired in to; an attempt was
also made to discover the things he liked best to do in his leisure
time. Each child was interviewed in his own school, 20 to 30 min­
utes being required to complete the schedule.
The second line o f inquiry was made through leaders in the com­
munities visited. Teachers, ministers, club leaders, and outstanding
recreation workers were asked about the character and adequacy of
the community’s program o f social events and the immediate needs
o f the neighborhood. These visits were made not only in the neigh­
borhood of the T5 schools visited but also in 11 near-by towns and
centers to which the children scheduled went for recreation or any
other purpose. Ministers o f neighboring city and town churches,
scout masters, Young Men’s Christian Association workers, proprie­
tors o f commercial amusement places, and many others furnished
information as to the recreational facilities offered in their respec­
tive towns and the use made o f them by country folk. Community
meetings, country-life conferences (see p. 71), and other rural eve­
ning affairs were attended as often as possible, and a few public
dance halls and moving-picture theaters were visited by the agents
in order to obtain first-hand information as to the character o f these
amusement places. Pool rooms and loafing places were noted also,
especially the use made o f them by young men and boys in the
The facts regarding the leisure-time activities o f rural boys and
girls thus obtained from the school children themselves on the one
hand and the adult leaders on the other have been combined for
purposes o f this study. Following a description of the types o f
communities visited^ the general characteristics and home surroundings o f the children interviewed, and their own statements as to the
amount o f free time at their disposal, are the findings regarding
the various agencies through which recreation could be provided, as
home, church, school, clubs, and the extent to which children were
reached by their programs. In order to complete the picture o f the
recreational interests o f young people in the areas visited, each child
was asked not only what he did but what he would like to do m his
leisure time. The special interests and desires expressed were many
and varied, and these are summarized at the end o f the report, with
recommendations which point toward the possible gratification ox
some o f the unfulfilled yet simple desires to which the rural child is
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The word “ community ” is defined as a body politic— a village,
town, city, or state— and also as any body o f persons having com­
mon interests. The latter part o f this definition makes the term
applicable in this study to rural as well as village and town folk.
Since this report is largely concerned with the open country, the
“ rural communities ” and then the “ villages ” will be described.
Towns hardly need description.

In the areas visited were found many groups o f rural people,
numbering anywhere from 25 or 30 to several hundred, that were
brought together partly by similarity o f interests but more by
geographic location. The names o f the localities were often de­
scriptive o f their setting, many having 2-part names, which con­
sisted o f valley, run, creek, ridge, grove, or glade, and an appro­
priate prefix such as “ little,” “ green,” “ pleasant,” or the name o f
some family at one time prominent in the locality. A very few o f
these rural communities had a tiny settlement as a center, but most o f
them had no definite center unless the church, the school, or the
crossroads store and gas station could be called one. The larger
number o f families belonging to the community were scattered along
main highways that for the most part followed the ridges and the
runs. Others lived far back on unfrequented roads, some in halfhidden hollows or on steep hillsides, and some in wide-open fields
plainly visible from the main roads.
Not every home in a rural community was a farm home. A few
o f the rural families lived on small lots, and the men worked as
laborers in town or as miners or at various other occupations, driving
or walking back and forth each day. Even in some of the farm
homes the father and older boys worked in town, leaving the mother
and younger children to carry on the daily routine of farm chores.
Some o f the more prosperous farmers had hired help to do the
heavy work.
Fifty-one rural communities were visited during the survey, if
each locality where there was a rural school is considered a rural
community. Descriptions of a few o f these communities will give
a clearer idea o f what they were like.
I. About 10 miles from the center o f one of the principal cities of the north­
ern Panhandle was located a tiny settlement which formed the nucleus o f what
may be termed a “ rurban ” 3community. While the entire organized community
included about 75 homes scattered here and there among the hills over an area
of several square miles, its visible center was composed o f five houses, two
stores, a church, and a gas station clustered about a crossroads. Another
8This term is a combination of the words “ rural ” and “ urban ” and is sometimes
applied to rural communities lying close to large cities.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



church a little distance away also contributed its share to community life, hut
each church was a center principally for its own membership.
The real center o f the community, in spirit at least, was the s ^ p o l a fl^arter
nf n mile ud one of the pikes. This was a modern, well-equipped building with
af large combination auditorium-gymnasium
throughout the winter season
it was used every Friday evening for basket-ball games, both the boys and tne
X ^ LvTnff teams that played with other schools. These games were largely
attended bv parents and friends. Once a month meetings that were forerunners
of the annual country-life conference were held in this same auditorium,
organizations such as the farm women’s club, the community-welfare club, and
the 4 H club held meetings, programs, and plays here during the year. It
safd by m o st S e r s t iS P t t o ¿ W P * worked well together and usually agreed

0\ Ch°eTwoniLsto?es3served as daily social centers.

Both men and women met
there and discussed the latest village news, often seatmg themselves comfo
ably as if visiting in a friend’s home. The garage also provided chairs around
fiTP and thpsp showed the hi£>h polish o f much service*
People had frequent contacts in this “ rurban”
due to the fact that nearly all the farm s were located on^ go<^, hMd^urtaced
roads such as a comparatively wealthy county with a large city was aDie to

Pr^ood'roads also helped to bring about a situation in this “ rurban ” community
and°a^ f ^ ^ o t h e r s U k ^ t which made them different from the more distant
rural communities. A drive of 3 or 4 miles brought one into» either
tw o mty
suburbs, which in themselves were shopping and social centers. Some of the
homes were located within 5 miles of a small town where a normal scnooi
offered social programs and weekly movies. The adults seemed to experience
little difficulty in keeping their groups interested in their own churches and clubs,
t a ? u S h S S ' ï d o S t o t “ « Æ l i e a that school and social a f f a m m other
p i a c i p u M their small company In four directions, making local affairs difficult to arrange.
II. A community that had originally grown up around
a church was found in Marshall County. There were only a score or so of
homes within a 2-mile radius of the center, but people living along 10 miles
of the pike considered themselves a part of the community. This w as the
oldest and one o f the most strongly organized communities visited.
^P articip ation ° L . church, school, and community affairs was quite general
although only a 4-room buUding and the poorest of all the
consoUdated schools visited, was filled to capacity when such events took place.
TJtevm m g people’s organizations of the different churches had a jo in tc h o ir
anrl heM i oint meetings. It was expected that in time the several starving
m t le c ^ r c h V s w M c h b a d been drawn into the community organization would
i l l on e of the best examples of an isolated and unorganized i rural com,
„„ fnnnd in Webster County. The schoolhouse was located 2 %
X s f r o T t h Æ m at X X t o H i e 7 of the villages with the county seat,
ï o r e a c Ï Ï t one usually had to travel on foot, or on horseback, because even
a horse and carriage could not accomplish the trip with safety except m dry
ThA rnad ¿ s u c h it could be called, was narrow and very rough
and wound around pasture lands and over rocks, small streams, fallen trees,
aSd T derbru sS
To reach the school on the day of the agent’s visit it. seemed
nreferable to avoid the “ ro a d ” and take the “ short c u t ” through the fields
and pastures, even though this necessitated climbing over several stone wa
an^ t o i T o f this community were
r o a ffo r X u t a X
N e i t h e r side
w »<5 a small lumber town, or camp, 3
pike supplied small fam ily needs, but


scattered through the fields and by the
of the school The nearest settlement
miles away. A general store near the
other necessities were purchased either

te£? a
n" S

« S n T ’aLï âepüS

PUT h isSconmiunity could not be considered prosperous. In fact, s e v r a i of
the S n ï ï T r t * « ! were very poor and were scantily furnished, Others
might be called comfortable.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The schoolhouse was a very poor 1-room structure not worth repairing.
I t was hoped that the funds would be forthcoming for a new building the
next year. Such as it was, however, the old schoolhouse served the needs of
the neighboring families both on week days and on Sundays. A small Sunday
school was held there every Sunday afternoon, and preaching services on
week-day evenings now and then when a minister could arrange to come.
The teacher of the school said the people were rather timid about coming
together in any community activity. Among the young folks there was mateleadership, as was evidenced by the excellent work done by a. few
of the 4-H club members. They had carried out what was practically the
only social program that the community had had during the year, but they
were available only a small part of the time because they were away at the
town high school from Monday until Saturday.
IV . A community less isolated but nevertheless difficult o f access in certain
seasons was not far distant in the same county. On the whole, it presented
a much more prosperous appearance, although a number of the farmers, “ solid
honest, country people ” as they were termed, were in bad financial condition
because they were paying off notes that they had indorsed for merchants who
had failed in business in a near-by town.
Their country was a fertile farming section along the creek. A logging train
furnished the chief means of travel in wet weather.
The church, with a membership of about 50 people, and the new 1-room
school, with its energetic teacher and flock o f 14 enthusiastic children, fur­
nished the social life of the community. In fact, the school was the pride of
the neighborhood, largely because of the capable leadership and devoted inter­
est of the teacher. She had tactfully won over the interest of the parents
most o f whom belonged to old conservative families. Community meetings were
gradually becoming events of interest.


The rural villages visited were similar, in that their population,
which in each case was less than 500, was concentrated in a fairly
small area, in the middle of which were the post office, the school,
one or more churches, stores, and sometimes a railroad station. Each
village possessed individual characteristics, however, that make a
more detailed description, o f two worth while.
I. One of the average-sized villages visited had been a county seat and quite
a thriving town. Its population at the time of the survey was a little more
than 400 and consisted largely of the older member of families who had lived
there for several generations. The majority of the young people had gone
away to work. The removal o f the county seat to another town had undoubt­
edly been one of the causes of the exodus of a good part o f the former popula­
tion. The town had become a quiet, country village with a school, two churches,
two general stores, and a garage. There was no industry aside from farming,
but there was a general air of prosperity and comfort.
The schoolhouse had been built by the Grange and the county. It was a
2-story building, the second floor of which was used as a lodge hall and com­
munity room. There was practically no play space around the school: the boys
played ball in the road.
Both the churches were struggling to retain their membership which had been
gradually dropping off, partly because the young people were moving away and
no new generation was rising in their place. One church was without a pastor;
the other had a student pastor who spent only week-ends in the village and
knew little of its real needs.
The social life of the village was promoted chiefly by the Grange and by
the Ladies’ Aid Society and a few organized Sunday-school classes of the two
churches. The Grange was the strongest single organization of the community,
having a membership of 125 persons, which included both old folks and young­
sters in their teens. A small 4-H club furnished some social life for about 15
boys and girls. There were no commercial amusements o f any kind. The peo­
ple of the two churches were not much in favor of “ w orldly” recreation
although they did not object to the dancing and social affairs of the Grange.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



II. A village along a railroad in Webster County, even though it had less
than 500 inhabitants, presented a very different picture. It was one of the first
lumber-mill towns to be built in that part of the State and seemed fairly pros­
perous. A school (including both grammar and high-school grades), two
churches, two hotels, two lodge halls, garage, post office, railroad station, bank,
and a dozen or so stores composed the business section of the main street. Be­
yond these on either side were the homes of the village folks. The people living
farther back on the hills and across the river in the vicinity of one o f the lumber
mills were also counted as residents of the community.
Along the entire length of the main street was a board walk, considerably ele­
vated in places. It served not only as the one safe place to walk in wet weather,
when the streets were ankle deep with clayey mud, but also as the most popular
place for evening strolls of the village young folk in pleasant weather.
The chief interest of one small group of very active citizens was to get a
real road through to the outside world, a truly worthy objective. Social affairs
and plays put on by various societies were much enjoyed by most of the village
folk, although on the whole they were somewhat conservative.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


In the course o f the 3-month survey 1,929 school children were in­
terviewed individually in their own schools— 927 boys and 1,002 girls.
The number o f children in each county and school district was as
Brooke County____________


Cross Creek________________________________ I I _______H I __ 119


Hancock County______________________________________________

Clay--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 89
G ra n t------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 213
Marshall County___________________________________________________ __
C la y ----------------------------------------------------------------- _______ I ______I I 50
U n ion ____________________________________________________________ 122
Washington________________________________________ "________~ H 79


Ohio County________________________________________________________ __

Liberty---------------------------------------------------1_______________________ 200
R ichland________________________________________________________ 119
Webster County: Glade____________________________________________ 419

This survey included only children over 10 and under 18 years o f
age. These ages were selected in order to cover the “ club-age ” pe­
riod among West Virginia 4-H club boys and girls. A s will be seen
in Table 2, about the same number o f children was included in each
yearly age group up to 15 years. After 15 the number o f boys fell
off decidedly, and after 16 the number o f girls dropped.
T able 2.— Num ber o f boys and girds o f each age interview ed in five counties o f
W est Virginia


10 years...................................
11 years................ ........................
12 years...............................
13 years............. ...........
14 years............................
15 years______ _____
16 y e a rs.................................
17 years. ......................
Not reported.............................

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis









The grades in which the children were found ranged from the
first grade, in which there were eight 10-year-olds and three 11-yearolds, to the last grade of high school, which was represented by one
child 15 years old, six 16 years old, and eighteen 17 years old. A
comparison of the average age o f the children in each grade in these
schools with the average age o f children o f the same grades in 900
city schools shows that there is not a great deal o f difference in the
age distribution o f the children in the lower grades. From grade
six to grade eleven, however, the average ages of the children in
the study were well above that o f the city children. The average
age o f children in grade twelve was approximately the same as that
o f children in this grade in the cities. The fact that many of these
country boys and girls were above average age for their grade meant
not only discomfort in the schoolroom, where 14 and 15 year old
boys were forced to sit in seats made for 10 or 11 year olds, but
inequality on the playgrounds, where children o f different ages but
o f the same mental attainment were thrown together in play. A
dull 14-year-old boy often asserted himself by being the bully in a
gang o f younger children when he was pushed aside by those of
his own age.

Fifty-one o f the seventy-five schools in which these children were
interviewed were distinctly rural (that is, in the open country), 14
were in villages, and 10 were in towns. In the 65 rural and village
schools and in 2 o f the town schools all boys and girls between the
ages o f 10 and 18 who were attending school on the day of the
agent’s visit were interviewed. In the other town schools the only
children seen were those coming in to high school from homes in
the rural neighborhoods where grade schools were visited. The
reason for including all children in the two town schools was that the
town in which both schools were located was essentially rural in
character, being not a manufacturing but a mercantile center which
served principally the interests o f the many dairy and sheep farmers
who lived in the surrounding country.
A ll children o f the survey may be spoken of in general terms as
rural, having about them on all sides the influences o f country life
even while enjoying certain advantages offered in near-by town and
city institutions. However, there is no question but that certain
children were more subjected than others to the influence of town
life. Therefore, in order that the recreational opportunities offered
to and utilized by these boys and girls may be compared, the chil­
dren have been divided into three groups according to the kind o f
school they attended— rural, village, or town.
Nearly half (903) o f the total number o f children interviewed
attended rural schools, 678 attended village schools, and 348 at­
tended town schools. Further subdivision o f those attending rural
schools may be made according to the type of school attended,
w hether a one or a two room building or one o f the larger and betterequipped consolidated schools. The number o f children interviewed
in the 1-room and 2-room buildings combined was 476, only 65
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



being seen in the latter type o f school. In the consolidated schools,
which were visited only in Brooke, Marshall, and Ohio Counties, 427
children were interviewed. The largest number o f pupils attend­
ing rural 1-room schools was in Hancock County. More villages
were visited, and consequently more village school children were
interviewed in Webster County. The majority o f the pupils at­
tending town schools were in one district o f Marshall County.

Although slightly less than one-half o f the children interviewed
attended rural schools, more than two-thirds o f the boys and girls
(1,344) lived on farms or in other rural dwellings and considered
themselves a part o f some rural community like the ones described.
(See p. 6.) In contrast to these rural children, there were in­
cluded in the survey 585 who lived in villages and towns. The d if­
ferences between these two groups were chiefly in respect to home
duties, the country children having more and heavier ones, and the
proximity to school, church, and the various educational and recrea­
tional advantages offered by villages and towns. Twenty-one o f the
boys and girls whose homes were in the country and 11 who lived, in
very small villages boarded in some near-by town or village during
the school year in order to attend high school. These children re­
turned to their homes for vacations and usually for week-ends also.
The home conditions described by them were those relating to their
own farm homes rather than their temporary homes in the towns.


The families in the territory visited were practically all o f native
stock, 93 per cent o f the children reporting both parents as native
born. The few children o f foreign parentage that were found in
the rural districts belonged for the most part to miners’ families.
Some o f the miners were on strike and either had been moved by the
unions to small villages away from the mines, or had turned to farm­
ing to make a living, though they were having a hard struggle to do
so. Sixty-four per cent o f the children who had some foreign blood
were living in the open country, mostly on farms; the remainder
lived in villages, some o f which were nothing more than camps that
had been built for the striking miners’ families.
Literacy and knowledge of English.

Illiteracy and inability to speak English were rare among the
families o f these children. Nine children reported both parents and
39 one parent as being unable to read and write in any language. In
1 case only were both parents unable to speak English, and in 10
cases the children said that only one parent could speak English.
Status in relation to child.

Information was obtained concerning the presence o f both father
and mother in the home which makes for a child’s happiness and se­
curity. In an unusually large proportion of homes (84 per cent)
the children had both parents, either their own or one parent and a
step-parent, living and in the home. Eleven per cent o f the children
were in their own homes with one parent present. Four per cent
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



(74 children) were in foster homes; all but 6 of these children had
two foster parents. Only four children in the entire study had no

Since the country covered by the survey was largely rural, it was
expected that the fathers of most o f the children interviewed would
be farmers. As a matter o f fact, only 41 per cent of these children
had fathers engaged in any kind o f agricultural or allied pursuits,
which included farming, dairying, sheep raising, and logging. Even
among those children who lived in the country, only a little more than
one-half (53 per cent) had fathers who were agricultural workers,
and a number o f these did other work in addition. The fathers of
21 per cent o f the children worked in factories—glass and pottery
principally— or at mechanical trades; those o f 9 per cent were em­
ployed in the coal mines or in the oil fields. An equal proportion o f
children (7 per cent) reported their fathers’ occupation as in trade
or in transportation. The professions were represented sparingly,
and very few o f the fathers were engaged in personal and domestic
service or in public service. Five per cent o f the children had no
father living.
Some of the mothers were employed outside the home, but only
7 per cent o f the country children whose own mothers were alive said
that their mothers did remunerative work, as compared with 18 per
cent o f those living in towns and villages. Some form o f domestic
service was given most often as the mother’s occupation. The other
employed mothers were working chiefly in the potteries and other
factories, or in stores.

. The most essential element in a program o f play and recreation
is time. Without leisure, playmates, playthings, and programs are
valueless. Therefore before describing the various facilities for
recreation found in the communities visited and the use made o f
them, it is well to analyze the statements made by the boys and girls
interviewed as to the time spent on home chores and other work,
and the time that they could call their own. The information was
obtained by asking each boy and girl to outline his or her daily pro­
gram, including rising and retiring time, meal hours, home chores,
and other duties, time spent at school and in travel to and from
school, and free time with the use made o f it.

The daily routine of farm work and house work, which was not
light in the farm homes where the majority o f children lived, and
other odd jobs done by town as well as farm children, made varying
demands upon their time. Very few children— only 149 (8 per cent
o f all those interviewed)—said they had no regular work to do.
Home choree kept most boys and girls busy for an hour or more
a day, and work outside the home was undertaken by some. It was
not unusual to find a boy or girl doing janitor work in the rural
schoolhouses, $1 a week or $5 a month being the compensation in
most cases. They usually went early in the morning to build the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



fires, or “ stir them up,” and stayed after school in the afternoon to
sweep. This work appealed principally to boys and girls 12 to 15
years o f age. An 11-year-old girl alternated with a 14-year-old girl
in keeping one isolated rural school warm and clean. Certain boys
also did janitor work at churches and movies, the form of pay for
the latter being free admission to the Saturday-night show.
In most o f the villages where schools were visited some o f the boys
interviewed sold papers, which meant either a morning or an after­
noon job, or sometimes both. Children on farms frequently delivered
milk to neighbors, sometimes by wagon or auto truck, but often
on foot, and this required much time. Tending market stands in
town and peddling farm produce from a wagon or truck were occa­
sionally named as Saturday jobs by country boys. After-school or
Saturday work in stores and automobile-repair shops or filling sta­
tions attracted a few o f the village and town boys.
T able 3.— Percentage o f country and o f village and tow n lo g s and girls o f each
specified age group having no chores in five counties o f W est Virginia
Percentage having no chores




Village Country Village
Country and
and town











The country children, however, had more regular duties than the
village and town children, especially in the matter of home chores.
O f the country children, only 5 per cent reported no work, and 71
per cent said they had work both before and after school. O f the
village and town children, 14 per cent had no home or other duties,
and only 59 per cent had both morning and evening work. The
average farm boy had barn chores to do, such as milking and feeding
stock, and field work besides. The town boy escaped most o f these
duties, more than 21 per cent reporting no chores whatever, whereas
only 5 per cent o f the country boys had no work to do. Among the
girls the difference was less marked, all but 5 per cent of the country
girls and 8 per cent o f the town girls having some housework or
other chores to do.
A much larger percentage o f the boys 14 and over than under 14
escaped work altogether. This was especially true in the case o f
the town boys, who left the household tasks, which constituted the
bulk o f the work in town and village homes, to sisters or to younger
brothers. Even in the country fewer boys 14 and over than under 14
appeared to work. This was probably because they were obliged to
spend their time in study and in going back and forth to high school,
which was frequently many miles distant, and not because there was
no work for them to do.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



In the case o f the girls, in both farm and town homes, it was
rather the younger children, between 10 and 12 years o f age, who
escaped home duties.
The amount o f time spent on chores and other work daily was
small, nearly three-fourths o f the boys and girls doing less than
two hours’ work daily and more than one-third doing less than one
hour’s work. Country children generally worked longer hours than
village and town children, 33 per cent o f the country children com­
pared with 18 per cent of the town children having worked two hours
or more a day.

Week days except Saturday.

The amount o f free time that a child had outside o f school hours
did not necessarily depend on the amount o f work he did, although
this was a large factor. Hours o f rising and retiring, home study,
distance traveled to school, care o f younger children, and even
meals, caused much variation in individual schedules. These factors
were all taken into consideration in computing leisure time.
Two hours o f play, outside o f the little that the child gets while
he is under the supervision of the school, should be the minimum for
boys and girls between the ages o f 10 and 18. In the present survey,
23 per cent o f the boys and 36 per cent o f the girls had less than
two hours before and after school that they could call their own
to use for play, reading, or any purpose they desired.
The girls always had less spare time than the boys, and the older
children always less than the younger ones, as the, following figures
T able 4.— Percentage o f to y s and, girls of each specified age:"group having less
than tico free hours on school days in five counties o f W est Virginia


Percentage having
less than 2 free
' 3§v



1?* ",
>■ 442
. ;s 44

Approximately half of both boys and girls (54 and 51 per cent,
respectively) had between 2 and 4 hours a day in which to do as they
pleased, and 24 per cent o f the boys and 13 per cent of the girls had
4 hours and more.
Children living in rural districts spent much time in traveling to
and from school, some having 2 or more miles to walk in addition
to a bus ride, others walking the whole distance even up to 5 and 6
miles each way. Also, as was previously observed, country children
had considerably more home chores to do than village and town
children. Thirty-four per cent o f the country children, compared
with 19 per cent of the village and town children, had less than two
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



free hours on school days. (Table 5.) In the group having two to
four free hours there was practically no difference between these two—
53 per cent o f the former as compared with 49 per cent o f the latter
having this period o f leisure. However, among the group having
four or more hours there was considerable difference, 31 per cent
o f the village and town children having as much as four hours com­
pared with 12 per cent o f the country children.
T abi ® 5. Percentage o f bogs and girls w ith permanent coun try or village or
tow n residence having specified number o f free hours an school days in five
counties o f W est Virginia
Percentage having specified number of free hours
Free hours daily

Less than 2__ __________
2, less than 4________________
4 or more_____________

Village and town chil­

Country children


. 56








Though the statement made by 38 country children and 10 village
and town children that they had no free time on week days may be
doubted, they probably had very little leisure, and they can be com­
bined with those who said they had some free time but less than one
hour daily. This entire group constituted 11 per cent o f the country
children and 4 per cent o f those living in villages and towns.
The following daily schedules are typical for the average farm
boys and girls during the school months:
Farm boy, 12 yea rs o f age.

а. m.

W orks 2 % h ours; free 2%hours.

б. 00 Rises.
6 .1 5 W aters and feeds chickens, helps milk, throws down
hay at uncle’s farm near by.
7 .3 0 Breakfast.
8.00 Starts for school— 1 % -m ile walk over bad roads.
p. m .
4.15 Arrives home from school; supper.
4 .3 0 Milks and does other chores.
6.0 0 Reads papers.
6 .3 0 Studies.
7 .0 0 Free— sits around and talks.
9 .0 0 Bed.
Farm boy, 15 yea rs o f age. W orks 3 hours; free 2 % hours.
а. m.
5 .3 0 Rises.
5 .4 5 Feeds cows and horses; milks two cows.
6 .3 0 Breakfast.
7 .0 0 Feeds sheep and does other chores.
8 .0 0 Gets ready for school.
8 .1 5 Starts for school— 2 m iles; walks part way, takes bus
part way.
p. m .
4 .3 0 Home, plays baseball.
5 .3 0 Does chores.
б. 45 Supper.
7 .1 5 Studies.
8 .1 5 Reads.
1 0 .00 Bed.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Farm boy, 14 years o f age. W orks 2 hours; free 1 % hours.
а. m .
б. 00 Rises.
6 .3 0 Feeds horses, cleans own horse.
7 .0 0 Breakfast.
7 .3 0 W aters horses, puts down fodder, gets ready for school.
8 .1 5 Starts for school— 1% -m ile walk.
p. m.
5 .0 0 Arrives home— waters and feeds horses.
6.0 0 Supper.
6 .1 5 Studies.
7.1 5 Looks at papers, plays.
9 .0 0 Bed.
Farm girl, 13 years o f age. W orks 2 % hours; free 2 y2 hours.
а. m.
6.0 0 R ise s; feeds stock.
6 .3 0 Breakfast.
б . 45 Packs lunches, gets little ones ready for school, tends
8 .3 0 Leaves for school.
p. m.
4 .3 0 Arrives hom e; tends stock.
5 .0 0 Plays.
5 .3 0 Supper and dishes.
6.0 0 Studies lessons.
6 .3 0 P la y s; reads.
8 .3 0 Bed.
Farm girl, 12 years of age. W orks 2 % hours; free 2 % hours.
a. m.
6 .3 0 R ise s; works around house one-half hour.
7 .3 0 Breakfast.
7 .4 5 Gets coal and water, puts up lunch.
8 .1 5 Starts for school— 1-mile walk.
p .m .
5 .0 0 Arrives home (plays one-half hour on way) ; gets wood
and water, feeds chickens, helps prepare supper.
6.0 0 Supper.
6 .3 0 Dishes.
7 .0 0 Plays piano or reads.
9 .0 0 Bed.
Farm girl, 14 yea rs o f age. Works 1 % h ou r; free 2 % hours.
a. m .
7.00 R ises; milks 2 cows and feeds chickens.
7.30 Breakfast.
7.45 Washes dishes and makes bed.
8.15 Starts for school— 1-mile walk.
p. m.
4.45 Arrives hom e; feeds chickens, milks cows.
5.00 Plays.
6.00 Supper.
6.15 Washes dishes.
6.30 Studies.
7.00 Plays out of doors.
8.30 Bed.

Hard-working farm children who had many chores and less than
two hours of leisure time outside of school on week days had pro­
grams something like the following:
Farm boy, 13 yea rs o f age. Works 7 hours; free 1 hour.
a. m.
5.00 Rises and milks.
6.15 B reak fast; two hours of stable work.
8.30 Goes to school.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Farm hoy, 13 yea rs o f aye.— Continued.
p. m.
4.00 Arrives home; waters cows and horses and does house
5.00 Free.
6.00 Supper.
6.30 Feeds stock, milks, and does barn chores.
8.00 Goes to town, 2 y2 miles, and peddles milk.
9.30 Returns home and goes to bed.
Farm girl, 15 years o f age. W orks 3 hours; free three-quarters
of an hour.
а. m .
6.00 Rises.
б. 15 Breakfast.
6.45 Does housework and barn chores.
7.45 Leaves for school— 5-mile w alk; usually catches a ride
part way.
p. m.
5.30 Arrives hom e; helps in the house.
6.00 Supper.
6.30 Milks, washes dishes.
8.00 Studies.
8.30 Free.
9.15 Bed.
Country hoy, 15 yea rs o f age. W orks 3 % hours; free one-half hour.
[This boy does not live on a farm, but lives in the open country
near a farm, and works there.]
a. m.
7.30 Rises.
7.45 Breakfast.
8.00 Chops wood, gets in coal and water, tends furnace,
gathers eggs.
8.30 Goes to school.
p. m.
3.30 Arrives home, does some chores.
4.00 Goes to neighboring dairy and washes bottles.
5.00 Eats supper there.
5.30 Free.
6.30 Feeds cows, sometimes milks, bottles milk.
7.30 Studies.
9.00 Bed.

Fewer chores and more free time are indicated in the daily rou­
tine o f these village and town children.
Village hoy, 13 yea rs o f age. Chores 1 hours; free 4y2 hours.
a. m .
6.30 Rises.
6.45 Gets coal and water.
7.00 Breakfast.
7.15 Gets ready for school, “ fools around.”
8.00 Starts for school, three-quarters o f an hour free on
p. m.
3.30 Arrives hom e; plays.
4.45 Gets coal and w ood; goes to train for papers and
delivers them.
5.30 Washes up, and sits in house one-half hour.
6.00 Supper.
6.30 Goes to town and plays with boys.
8.00 Studies.
8.30 Bed.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Village girl, 12 gears o f age.


W orks one-half h our; free 3 hours.

а. m.


R ises; breakfast.
W ashes dishes, gets ready for school.
Goes to school.

p. m.
4.30 Arrives hom e; reads or sews 1 hour.
5.30 Supper.
б. 00 Washes dishes.
6.15 Goes to neighbor’s and studies with friend.
7.30 Free; visits with friend.
9.30 H om e; bed.
Tow n girl, 15 yea rs o f age. W orks three-quarters o f an hour;
free 3 hours.
a. m.
7.30 R ise s; breakfast.
8.00 Housework.
8.30 Goes to school.
p. m.
3.30 F r e e ; goes up town from school.
4.30 Arrives hom e; supper.
4.45 Washes dishes.
5.00 Practices on violin.
5.30 Studies.
7.30 F ree; reads generally.
9.30 Bed.

For almost all the girls (94 per cent) and for about three-fourths
o f the boys (74 per cent) the summer months when school was not
in session brought the most free time on week days. The 237 boys
and 60 girls who said they had more time for play during the school
months were for the most part country children who worked long
hours on their own or neighboring farms during the busy summer
months. In fact, 19 per cent o f the rural children said they had
more leisure in school months, but only 6 per cent of the village and
town children made this statement. O f the children having the
greatest number o f free hours during the summer months and
reporting number o f free hours, 72 per cent had six hours or more
free time and 44 per cent eight or more.

The Saturday program for most children, no matter where they
lived, included the traditional extra duties in preparation for
Sunday. Even tiny girls o f 10 said they scrubbed, washed windows,
and cleaned porches and yards most o f the morning on Saturday.
Some helped with the baking and also with the washing and ironing.
Company was often expected on Saturday afternoon or evening, or
on Sunday, so the house had to be in order. The boys had their
extra out-of-door chores to do, chicken coops to clean, fences to
mend, wood to cut, and other farm chores for which there was little
time on school days. Personal cleanliness, too, was a matter o f
special importance at the end o f the week, for there were few rural
children who failed to mention the Saturday bath as one o f the
time-consuming activities of that day.
Owing to these additional home duties and also to the fact that
some of the older boys worked away from home for pay on Satur­
days, considerably more than one-third of the children (38 per cent)
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



had less than six hours for their own use on Saturday. However
for the majority of children there was much more playtime on Satur­
day than on other week days, a half day or more being available to
fri per cent o f the boys and to 60 per cent o f the girls, while prac­
tically the whole day, 10 hours or more, was free for 20 per cent of
the boys and for 11 per cent o f the girls.
Again the young folks in villages and towns fared somewhat better
aS leisure time was concerned, because 71 per cent o f these
children, as compared with only 58 per cent o f the country children
had as much as six hours for their own use on Saturday. However
the country children had their own special activities for that day’
even though they had less spare time, and the younger children m
particular seemed to enjoy them. One frequently mentioned event
was the trip to town, which was commonly made in the afternoon by
the women and girls and which combined business and pleasure,
lh e boys went more often with their fathers to buy feed or to sell
their eggs and poultry, some staying in town all day.
Saturday evening was the one time in the week that men, women,
and _children alike were bent on pleasure. The town stores and
movies and the village shops were well patronized, and the main
streets were filled with parked cars that had brought families from
distant farm homes. Some o f the country children who did not g;o
to town— and many were denied this pleasure—said they visited
mends and neighbors, and sometimes attended parties or dances.
Others listened late to radio programs because they did not have to
get up early the next morning.

There was one day in the week when the country child was just as
tree as other children, and that was Sunday. Farm work was sus­
pended, except the necessary care o f stock, and housework was reduced to a minimum in most country homes. Seventy-eight per
cent o f the country children reporting number o f hours had 6 or
more free hours and 19 per cent 10 or more. O f the town children
S-Sen t.had i6 ?r Iilore free hours and 18 Per cent, 10 or more,
th is did not include time spent in attendance at church services or
m going to and from church. Some o f the young folks went walkmg, ndm g, or visiting on Sunday afternoon or evening, if the church
service or Sunday school did not fill these hours. Some read and
wt-fRrSfLPa5tlC^!arly m
rural districts, just sat around and talked
church p 4 0 )
° r Wlth a nelghb° r who haPPened in. (See also
Free hours weekly.

Since some children who had little spare time on school days were
? S eiP^ f tlCaUy all,day Saturday or Sunday, or both, and others who
did little or no work on school days were busy over the week-ends, the
total number o f free hours per week during school months was comp ted for the 1,785 boys and girls who gave satisfactory answers to
questions about their daily programs. The results o f these tabula­
tions only strengthen the conclusions reached in regard to their spare
üme on separate days. The boys still had more leisure than the
girls, as shown in Table 6.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



T a b l e ) 6.— Percentage o f "boys and) girls having specified num ber o f free hours

w eekly during school term in five counties o f W est Virginia
Percentage having specified
number of free hours weekly
Free hours
Less than 12__________________________ ___ ___________
12, less than 16_____ ______ _____
16^less than 20______________________
20j less than 24___________________ _____ ____ ______ ___________
24 or more........................ __................ ..................................... ........ ..........



The younger children, as would be expected, had more free hours
weekly than the older ones. The percentage o f all boys with as
many as 24 hours for their own use during the week gradually
decreased from 78 for those 10 and 11 years o f age to 65 for those
16 and 17 years o f age. Among the girls the corresponding per­
centages decreased from 68 to 44.
Whether a child lived in a rural dwelling or in a village or town
house made some difference in the amount o f free time he had
weekly. Sixty-five rural children, all but 5 o f whom lived on
farms, and 18 o f the village and town children had less than 12
hours free, but these were comparatively small percentages o f each
group— 5 and 3, respectively. The majority of both groups o f
children had at least 24 free hours weekly, although the percentage
was much larger for the village and town children. (Table 7.)
T able 7.— Percentage o f boys and girls w ith permanent country or village or
tow n residence having 24 or m ore free hours w eekly in five counties o f W est

Percentage having 24 or more
free hours weekly
Place of permanent residence
Country______________ ___________ _____________ ______
Village and town.......................................









To determine the use made o f this leisure time, not only at home
but also in connection with church and school and with agencies
organized wholly or partly for recreational purposes, was one of the
principal objects o f this survey. The results o f this part o f the
investigation follow.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The home is the first important play center to the child, and cer­
tain conditions must be satisfactory i f he is to spend his time happily
there. Among these an atmosphere that encourages wholesome play
is very important. Though this may be dependent somewhat on the
financial resources o f the family, it is dependent to a greater extent
on the attitude o f the parents toward play and the interest they take
in the child’s activities. The home that fulfills its function as a
recreation center most satisfactorily is the one where playmates are
encouraged to come, where some equipment is provided for indoor
and outdoor activities, and where family participation in games,
reading, and music, and in little excursions to the outside world is a
part o f the program planned by the parents.

Number and kinds.

One o f the first questions asked o f each child was whether he had
any brothers or sisters living at home, and i f so, the number and
ages. Ninety per cent o f all children replied that they had one or
more brothers or sisters, but only 53 per cent had brothers or sisters
within two years o f their own age. Twenty-two per cent o f the chil­
dren said that they had no neighbors or friends near their own age
with whom they could play, except friends that they saw only at
school; these children were largely the younger ones who stayed
more closely at home. (Table 8.) Eleven per cent said they had
just one play friend, in most cases o f their own sex. The majority
o f the children had several playmates, besides brothers and sisters ;
some had many, 28 per cent naming from two to four, and 38 per
cent, five or more. One hundred and fifty-six o f the children had
neither brothers nor sisters within two years o f their own age nor
any other playmates; and 24 children (13 boys and 11 girls) had no
brothers or sisters o f any age and no neighbors. This meant that
only 1 per cent o f all the children interviewed had no playmates
whatever and that 9 per cent had none very near their own age.
T able 8 .— P er cent distribution o f children attending rural and town schools
having specified number o f playm ates other than brothers and sisters in five
counties o f W est Virginia
Per cent distribution of children having specified
number of playmates
Attending school located inNumber of playmates


Rural districts

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Acces­ Village Town















As the home Surroundings, particularly the number and proximity
o f neighbors, are very different in towns and villages and in rural
districts, the statements o f the boys and girls as to the number of
playmates other than brothers and sisters were analyzed from this
standpoint. Twfenty-eight per cent o f the country children, as com­
pared with only 9 per cent o f those living in towns and villages, had
no playmates outside the home.
The character o f the neighborhood in which the children lived may
be more clearly indicated, perhaps, by the type and accessibility of
the school attended. This was especially true in the case o f children
who attended isolated rural schools, because the homes o f these chil­
dren were frequently more difficult o f access than the school. In
consequence, a very large proportion (40 per cent) of the 215 children
o f that group who reported on playmates said they had no neigh­
borhood friends. The children who attended rural schools that were
on or near main highways lived for the most part on more accessible
farms or in small rural settlements; they were more likely to have
neighbors, near by or within easy reach, than were the children in
isolated districts. This seems to account for the fact that only 26
per cent of the children attending accessible rural schools, in contrast
to the 40 per cent attending isolated schools, had no playmates other
than their own brothers and sisters.
In like manner, the proportion of children who had no playmates
outside their homes was perceptibly smaller among village-school
pupils and was still smaller among those in the town schools. This
was not due wholly to the fact that they lived in communities where
there were more neighbors, because some of these children lived on
farms outside the community centers, but they were brought in con­
tact with others o f their own age to a greater degree than in the
rural schools, and they sought out these companions at other times
besides school hours.
Frequency o f meeting.

As it was presupposed that most boys and girls who had brothers
and sisters spent some play time with them nearly every day, it was
considered more important to ascertain the frequency with which
children met other playmates besides those seen only at school.
About half o f all the children (53 per cent o f the boys and 45 per
cent o f the girls) said they met one or more playmates daily outside
o f school hours. Twenty-one per cent of the boys and twenty-seven
per cent of the girls met friends at least once a week, but not every
day. A rather large proportion (25 per cent o f the boys and 29
per cent o f the girls) either had no playmates besides brothers and
sisters, or, if they had any, met them less often than once a week.
An examination o f the statements made by children who had
playmates other than brothers or sisters showed that the younger
ones met their friends oftener than did the older ones, probably
because they had fewer home duties and more playtime. Seventyfour per cent of the 10 and 11 year old boys who had playmates met
them daily. The percentage gradually decreased as the age in­
creased, so that in the 16 and 17 year old group it was 65. The girls
who had play friends outside their homes met them less frequently
than the boys met theirs. Only 61 per cent of even the youngest
ones (those 10 and 11 years old) said that they played daily with
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



friends. Not much difference was noticed between the age groups of
girls up to their fourteenth year; o f the older girls only 53 per cent
o f those 14 and 15 years o f age and 46 per cent o f -those 16 and 17
years o f age saw their playmates daily.
A comparison o f the statements showed that children attending
rural schools met playmates much less frequently than those attend­
ing town and village schools. Only 36 per cent o f the rural-school
pupils, as contrasted with 60 per cent o f the town and village school
pupils, had friends with whom they played daily. Moreover, 36
per cent o f the rural-school children either had no playmates at all
or saw them less often than once a week, while only 19 per cent o f the
town and village school children were so lacking in companions or in
opportunities to play with them.
Places of meeting.

Both boys and girls named their own or friends’ homes as the most
usual places for meeting. Homes were mentioned, however, by more
o f the girls (85 per cent) than o f the boys (67 per cent). Woods,
fields, hills, and roads near their homes attracted certain children,
especially those under 16 years o f age, 11 per cent o f the boys and 3
per cent o f the girls saying that it was in such out-of-door places that
they usually met their friends.
As they grew older, the boys were more inclined to gather at pub­
lic places, such as the village store or the railroad station, 6 per cent
o f all the boys who had special friends outside the home naming such
places. The scarcity of playgrounds is evidenced by the fact that
only 21 boys and 7 girls, or only 2 per cent o f all children who had
playmates, said they frequented playgrounds, and some o f these were
nothing more than baseball diamonds, or substitutes for them, which
the boys alone used. A very few children saw their friends only on
the way to and from school or at Sunday school. A ll in all, however,
the home with its environs was the most important play center out­
side of school hours for the majority o f boys and girls o f all ages. Activities.

The activities that boys and girls enjoyed with their companions,
whether brothers, sisters, neighbors, or otheF friends, were numer­
ous and varied. They may be classified as (1) games o f all kinds,
(2) free-play activities, and (3) social activities. Nearly one-half
o f all the boys and girls participated in more than one type o f
activity, although more than one-third o f all tSe children spoke
only o f games. This indicated not so much that they did nothing
in leisure time except play games, but that games were the first
play activity thought of. The importance o f games in the play
program o f these boys and girls, therefore, warrants giving them
first place in the long list o f activities enjoyed with friends and
Garries.— The games named by the children interviewed were o f
two distinct types: (1) Those having very simple rules, which will
be called games o f low organization, and (2) those like baseball
and hockey requiring a great amount of team work and called
games o f high organization. In the first group were included a
great variety o f simple games, principally o f the out-of-door type,
more than 100 kinds being named. They were mostly running or
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



active games, as hide and seek, prisoner’s base, fox and geese, drop
the handkerchief, run sheep run, and many variations o f tag. Many
boys and girls over 14 as well as the younger ones seemed to enjoy
these games. A number of singing games were mentioned, but
these were less popular than the running games, even though such
well-known ones as Farmer in the Dell and London Bridge were
included. Marbles were seen in nearly every community as spring
advanced and dry play spots were found. They were by far the most
popular pastime during May for the boys of one county who were
practicing for a tournament. Jacks and croquet were occasionally
named. Other games less frequently mentioned, but nevertheless
appealing strongly to certain children, were those o f a dramatic
nature like cowboy and Indians.
Social indoor games, which were also included in games of low
organization, were liked by some o f the boys and girls. Card games
were popular with the older girls who were in high school and whose
leisure time was largely in the evening. Checkers and dominoes
were played by children o f all ages, sometimes with older members
o f the family. Billiards and pool were seldom mentioned as being
played in the home, because few homes had equipment for them, but
some o f the boys when directly asked said that they played in pool
The popularity o f certain games in the areas visited is evident
from the following list, which gives the number of children naming
each one. Although the total number of games named by all chil­
dren was about 150, only 26 of these were popular enough to be
mentioned by as many as 10 children.
Hide and seek--------------T a g --------------------------------Prisoner’s base------------, M arbles_______________—
Jump rope---------------------Fox and geese----------- 1Run sheep run_.-----------Red light----------— ------a
B lackm an_____ — <
Hopscotch---------------------Drop the handkerchief.
Blind man’s buff----------Croquet_________________
Andy over---------------------Cowboy and Indian—
Farmer in the Dell___~
Leap frog---------------------Dodge ball-------------- ------Jacks u____ >-------- -—
Tap the ice box—
Run through-----------------Indoor:
D om inoes---,-------------- —
C ard s----------------------------Checkers----------------------Rook------------------------------Flinch___________________

Total Boys





. 36



The second large group o f games named as activities with play­
mates included those o f a highly organized type and may be called
competitive sports. While they were fewer in variety than those
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



in the low-organization group, certain ones were very popular, par­
ticularly baseball, football, and basket ball, which headed the list
for boys. Basket ball and volley ball were most popular with the
girls. The season o f the year influenced the choice o f sports to a
certain extent; undoubtedly some of those named during the spring
months when the survey took place would have been omitted, and a
few others added, had the children been interviewed in the fall.
For instance, football would probably have been more popular, al­
though some school principals said it was not encouraged as was
baseball, because of the difficulty in getting coaches.
It is probable that some o f the younger boys and girls who said
that they played baseball or football with their playmates merely
played with the balls used in these games. In response to a more
particular question about their favorite sports—that is, those in
which they themselves took part, including team games played ac­
cording to rule— 541 boys named baseball as a favorite leisure-time
activity. The younger boys as well as the older ones liked this
game and spent their playtime in practice. A number o f variations
o f baseball were found, as “ one old cat ” and “ corners up.” . Base­
ball, so-called, was also played by the girls in some localities, a
total o f 123 naming this as a sport which they liked particularly.
Football was reported as a favorite sport o f 229 boys.
The popularity o f basket ball was about the same for both sexes,
214 boys and 210 girls stating that they played this game with some
degree o f proficiency. Since this was a game that was practically
confined to schools having gymnasiums or playgrounds and to a few
town churches, many boys and girls lacked the opportunity to play
basket ball, particularly outside o f school hours.
Practice for track events, such as races and the broad jump and
high jump, seemed to be o f special interest to only a few children
although many said they liked to u run and jump.” On the whole’
track events were far less popular than team games, because field
days and track meets were at most only occasional occurrences, and
m many localities they were seldom heard of.
The total number o f boys who took active part in one or more
competitive sports (any kind o f team game or track) was 681 (73
per cent o f all the boys included in the study). Only about twofifths (42 per cent) o f the girls participated in team games. One
reason for this small percentage was that the team games that girls
usually play, such as basket ball and volley ball, require more equip­
ment than baseball, and this was lacking in most o f the rural-school
districts. Team play was not as common in the rural sections as in
town districts among either boys or girls, partly for this reason, but
mainly because there was little time to play and fewer children of
the same ages who could get together to form teams,
i .F^ee- f f V act''i''vities.—Almost as much variety was found in the
kinds o f free play that the children enjoyed with their playmates as
m the games they played. Most o f the free-play activities mentioned
were based on the use o f natural facilities and included such non­
competitive sports as swimming, fishing, hunting, and skating, and
simple childhood activities like climbing trees, hunting birds’ nests
roaming the woods, and gathering flowers. Some included the use of
toys and other play equipment such as kites, wagons, bicycles, hoops,
swings, and seesaws. The remaining activities were divided between
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



dramatic play, which included stunts, acrobatics, playing house,
school and store? and playing with dolls, and play that was an ex­
hibition o f physical strength, like running, jumping, and wrestling.
The number o f children who mentioned swimming, fishing, and
hunting as activities carried on with playmates was smaller than the
total number who named them as their favorite sports. As such
sports are usually enjoyed by children together, the replies to this
question may be discussed here.
The most popular noncompetitive sport—the one that was named
the greatest number o f times by both boys and girls, no matter where
they lived— was swimming. Even so, the total number o f boys who
said they particularly enjoyed swimming was only 200 and the num­
ber o f girls, 168, or less than one-fifth (19 per cent) o f the children
interviewed. Swimming was not so much o f a country sport as
might be supposed; only 18 per cent o f the boys and 13 per cent o f
the girls who lived on farms or in rural dwellings named swimming
as one o f their favorite free-time activities, as compared with 31 per
cent o f the boys and 25 per cent o f the girls who lived in villages
and towns.
As in the case o f swimming, fishing was named more frequently by
the town boys than by those living in the rural districts; 22 per cent
o f the former as compared with 10 per cent o f the latter named this
sport. There was practically no difference in the proportion of
country and town girls indulging in this sport.
Hunting was named as a favorite pastime by 81 boys (9 per cent),
country and town boys liking it equally well. Hunting was dis­
tinctly a 'boy’s sport, as it was mentioned by only one girl, a farm
child o f 13 years. Trapping was popular with a few boys in certain
localities; one boy said he sold the pelts and earned quite a little
spending money during the winter and spring. Other free sports,
like coasting, skating, hiking, and horseback riding, were enjoyed
by varying numbers o f both country and town children.
A total o f 606 children (31 per cent) said they participated in one
or more of the eight noncompetitive sports just named (swimming,
fishing, hunting, trapping, coasting, skating, hiking, and horseback
riding). Eural boys and girls found much o f their fun “ just play­
ing ” in the woods and fields near their homes, especially in the
spring o f the year when they could pick wild flowers, tap “ sugar ”
trees, swing on grapevines, and wade in the creeks where a few
months earlier they went skating.
Social activities.— The third group, which was the smallest in
variety o f interests, comprised such activities as going with friends
to all kinds o f social affairs and doing and making things together.
Attendance at movies, parties, and picnics, visiting, and motoring
were popular, as well as singing and dancing. The boys made kites
and airplane models, and built cabins and shanties, and the girls
liked to make candy, sew, read, and study together. It was largely
the older boys and girls, principally the ones who lived in towns and
villages, who named attendance together at social affairs.
^The number o f children naming each o f the various types o f activi­
ties is shown in the following list. Only forms o f play or activity
named by at least 10 boys or 10 girls were included.
74601°— 31----- 3
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Boys’ activities with, playm ates:
Games, low-organization—
Number of boys
Outdoor______________________________________________ _______ *
General (not otherwise specified)___________________________
Games, high-organization—
Ball not otherwise specified____________________ _____________ 278
Football______________________________________ ?______ __________ 257
Basket ball___________________________________:_2_______________ 214
Volley ball_____ ____________________________________________
T rack ____________________ _______________________________£_____
Tennis___________ ____ - __ § _____________________________________ 18
Soccer________________ __________________ .______________________
Free play—
Coasting______________________________________________ .____ _
H u nting----------------------- .-------------------------------------------------------------- 68
Fishing____ s_____________________________ ___________________ .Jti_ 60
H ik in g -----------------------------------------------------------41
Playing in woods, fields, creeks_________________________
Skating__________________________________ ________ 1_____________ 34
A ll other free play (with toys and animals, dramatic play,
running, ju m p in g )__________________:_______________________
Social activities—
Going to movies____________________________________________ J
Going to socials______________________________________ ___ |aE_L 17
Making kites and ship and airplane models______________
Building cabins or shanties__________________________________
Girls’ activities with playmates :
Games, low-organization—
Number of girls
Indoor________________________________ .ij|____________ &_________ 162
General (not otherwise specified)-----------------------------89
Games, high-organization—
Basket ball____________________________ i _____________________ - 2101
Ball not otherwise specified_____________________________
Volley b a ll_______________________________________________
Baseball______________________ Mt____ ^ _______ t._____ .*___u.___ ;__ 124
T en n is----------------------- t_,________________________________________ , 51
T rack ___________________________________________________________ 12
Free play—
H ik in g --------------------------------------------------------------------- :_±.— ,_____ 128
Coasting_______________________________________ t_____ ______ ___ _ 88
Swimming______________________________________________________ 53
Playing in woods, fields, creeks_____________________________
A ll other free play (w ith toys and animals, dramatic play,
running, jum ping)____________________________________________ 126
Social activities—
Music, playing piano, phonograph, or other instrument____
Going to movies______________ -È________________________________ 49
Visiting------------------------------------------------________ ____ ___ « ______
D ancing_________________________________________________________
Studying together------------------------------ ------- ------------ |I__________
Going to socials--------------------------------------- I_____________________ ■ 33
Reading together------------------------------------------------- lÉIL______ il__29
Singing-------------------------------- -------------- — ------------ _____________ 25
Going to picnics______________________________________ ,4
____ 20
Car riding______ «--------------------- .---------------------------------------------- 15
Sew ing__________ __k— “------------ -—
1____ ______________ 12
Embroidering__________________________________________________ 12
Making candy-------------------------------------------------------------------12
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis





As was previously stated, the extent to which the home may be a
recreational center depends somewhat on the facilities it provides for
the use o f leisure moments. Many family good times may be had
with little or no equipment other than a few home-made devices, a
game or two, or an open fireplace, provided a genial home atmosphere
prevails; but facilities for indoor play, for reading, for making and
enjoying music, and for taking little vacations or family outings
together help to make the home a real recreation center.
Gaines and indoor-play equipment.

In connection with the present survey no attempt was made to
take a census o f the game material' and other playthings possessed
in the homes o f the children interviewed. However, many o f the
forms o f play that they named as activities with brothers, sisters,
and other playmates presupposed such facilities as cards, dominoes,
checkers, various other games and toys, and even an occasional tool
The number o f children who mentioned the use of games and other
home-play equipment was a small proportion o f the total number of
children interviewed. Many rural boys and girls appeared to have
little to occupy their free time when evening came, or on other occa­
sions when out-of-door sports and games could not be indulged in.
When questioned on this point, more than 100 children replied that
they “ just sat around.” Some said they talked or visited with neigh­
bors who had dropped in, and some said that they “ looked at the
funnies ” in the Sunday paper. Other children cared for younger
brothers and sisters, or just played with the dog. Often, however,
“ sitting around ” seemed to have no other purpose than marking
time until they should go to bed. One little girl, after being asked
whether she ever did anything when she “ just sat around,” finally
replied that she listened to the telephone conversations o f her neigh­
bors over the party line.
The daily program as outlined by the majority of the boys and
girls did not seem to indicate much participation on the part o f the
parents in home-play activities. Very few children spoke o f play­
ing games with either o f their parents as a part o f their evening
program, and some o f those who did qualified the statement by
“ sometimes ” or “ once in a while.” One boy and his father did
woodwork together for recreation, spending Saturday afternoons as
well as most evenings at the workbench. This boy was very enthusi­
astic over the inlay work that they had just attempted. A few other
boys who had been provided with tools spoke with enthusiasm of
their ship and airplane models, and others enjoyed experimenting
with electrical sets or chemical outfits.
Though the proportion o f boys and girls who had adequate homeplay equipment and who used it can not be estimated, it is certain
that many o f the children in the areas visited either did not have
facilities for play or else lacked the proper encouragement from
parents for wholesome indoor recreation.

The part that music played in the home life o f the boys and girls
o f the study was not easy to determine, since time did not permit
evening visits to homes or other social contacts with the families
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



where observation could aid in the search for such information,
very few children, when asked what they did in the evenings, spoke
o f music as contributing much to family fun. However, only about
12 per cent o f the children said there was no musical instrument of
any kind in their home, and it is probable that at least a fair pro­
portion o f those who had them used and enjoyed them. On the
assumption that this was true, each child was asked to name the
dinerent kinds o f instruments possessed by various members o f the
household and the kinds he himself played.
Among the list o f instruments named were the phonograph, radio
and player piano, which provide a passive form of recreation that
seems to satisfy a large proportion o f the people.
The most popular instrument o f all was the#phonograph, 56 per
country children and 60 per cent o f the town and village
children reporting one in their homes. Although it was sometimes
out o f order,” its presence showed that an attempt had been made
to have some music in the home. Radios were reported in the homes
o f about one-fourth o f both town and country children. Some boys
and girls found considerable fun in sitting up late Saturday nights
listening to barn dances,” “ old-fashioned songs,” and other equally
appealing programs because they “ came in good ” after midnight.
Since the Sunday routine did not call for early rising, parents did
not seem to object to this departure from the usual bed hour. Both
a radio and a phonograph were found in the homes o f 16 per cent
o f the children interviewed* Thus two-thirds (67 per cent) o f all
the boys and girls in the selected group had access to phonograph or
radio or both.
Pianos and organs were almost as popular as phonographs, one or
the other being reported by 58 per cent o f all the children. Among
the girls reporting one o f these instruments in the home, 65 per cent
said they used them, but only 23 per cent o f the boys having a; piano
or organ made this statement. It is suspected that some o f the
organs were pieces o f furniture rather than music-making instru­
ments, since it was remarked about some o f them as about some o f
the phonographs, It is broken,” or “ No one can play it.”
One or more instruments other than those named were said to be
household possessions o f a little more than one-third o f the children
ihese included both wind and string instruments, such as cornet,
saxaphone, violin, guitar, banjo, and ukulele, and even the mouth
orgap, jew s-harp, and accordion. Only about one-third o f the
children who had these instruments played any o f them
I he various instruments named, other than piano and organ, and
the numbers o f boys and girls professing to play each are as follows:

Violin______ ______________
French harp_______________
Jew’s-harp____________ ____
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


















F ife -_______________________
Musical saw________________
















While no particular inquiry was made as to membership in orches­
tras and other musical organizations, it was apparently very small
among the group studied, because only 9 children, when asked what
instrument they played, volunteered the information that they be­
longed to an orchestra. A ll but one o f these were in the high-school
orchestra o f one o f the towns visited. In one family each o f four
children played a different instrument—piano, violin, guitar, and
banjo— and they practiced together as an orchestra for Saturday
night dances in summer. Several children mentioned their fathers
as furnishing music for the family. One father in an isolated farm­
ing district played the violin and the mouth organ, and the family
often had friends in for a social evening with music. Examples like
these were few, however. Only 30 children mentioned singing as a
pastime they particularly enjoyed with their companions, although
in a number o f the village and town high schools there were glee
clubs to which some o f the boys and girls interviewed belonged.
Seventy-six children spoke o f playing the piano, phonograph, or
other instruments as activities enjoyed with playmates.
The apparent lack of interest in creative music may be partly ex­
plained by the presence o f phonographs and radios in many homes.
It may be true, as one long-time rural resident remarked, that “ sing­
ing and fiddling sound inferior after the radio,” and people are less
eager to listen to their own or their neighbors’ music after becoming
accustomed to better artists.
Reading material.

Reading was one o f the most frequently mentioned o f the evening
and other spare-time activities of the young people interviewed. The
amount and kinds of reading done by an individual, especially a
child, are difficult to determine through a short school interview; but
it was felt that a few questions relative to the kinds o f reading mate­
rial available, and whether or not use was made of them, would throw
some light on the general subject o f reading among the children in
the areas visited.
Newspapers.—More than 90 per cent o f the boys and girls living in
towns and villages had access to some kind of newspaper. Nine per
cent o f these children said their families took only the local news­
papers—that is, those published in their own town or village or in the
one nearest to them—but 35 per cent said they took both local papers
and others, which for the most part were those o f the larger cities like
Wheeling and Pittsburgh. Nearly half (46 per cent) o f the town and
village children mentioned only these outside papers as being taken
regularly by their families.
The percentage o f country boys and girls who reported some kind
o f newspaper in their homes was just the same as for those living
jn town. The local small-town or near-by city newspapers seemed
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



to interest the rural people more than those published in the more
distant cities, because 39 per cent of these children said their fam­
ilies took local papers only, 29 per cent said they had both local and
outside papers, while 22 per cent, as contrasted with 46 per cent
o f thé town and village children, reported only the outside papers in
their homes.
Magazines.—A large amount o f current reading was done in the
homes o f most of the children if the numbers o f magazines, as well
as newspapers, that were subscribed to or bought regularly by their
families are a criterion. Only 251 (13 per cent) o f all the children
interviewed said they had no magazines coming into their homes.
The number and variety of magazines were large. An analysis of
all the kinds named by the 1,250 from whom full r.eports were ob­
tained (practically two-thirds o f the entire number) revealed some
rather interesting facts as to the type o f reading matter most com­
monly found in the homes. Three hundred and twenty-six maga­
zines were named 5,599 times by these children. A well-known
women’s magazine headed the list, being mentioned 306 times, and
16 magazines, of which 11 were farm journals or magazines for
women, were named 100 times or more.
The following figures are based on the reports o f 1,668 boys and
girls, who, if they were not able to give the exact names o f certain
magazines, described their contents so that it was possible to
classify them:
Type of magazine
H om e___________________________________________________ 1 ,9 44
Farm_________________________ ___________________________ 1, 501
Fiction__________________________________ _______________
Cultural (including music, nature, travel, current
Church______________________________________ _____ 4______
Juvenile_____________________________________________ ___
Fraternal___________________________________ _________
Technical___________________________________________ ____
Miscellaneous (including sports, politics, advertis­
ing, photoplay)_________________ _____________________

zines rep­

The popularity o f literature pertaining to home life and farm
problems was beyond question, as far as the adult members o f the
many households were concerned, and it was these two types, to­
gether with fiction and church magazines, including all kinds o f
Sunday-school publications, that the boys and girls usually said
they read.
Three-fourths (76 per cent) of the girls and a little more than
two-thirds (69 per cent) o f the boys said that they read magazines.
One-fourth o f the children spoke o f reading one type o f magazine,
nearly one-fourth read two types, 15 per cent read three types, and
8 per cent read four or more. These figures do not show amount of
reading done, because one type might include several magazines.
Moreover, there was no way of knowing how thoroughly they were
read except through occasional remarks by some o f the children
that they liked the stories or the children’s pages and looked at
those first.
Books.-—Although the reading o f books was done partly in con­
nection with school work, it was largely an evening or other spare
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

r ec reation al , o p p o r t u n it ie s

time occupation in the home. For this reason the findings concerning
book reading are given in this part o f the report.
Information concerning book ownership and home libraries could
not be obtained easily, but questions were asked in regard to the
use o f school or other libraries and the kinds o f books read during
the previous year. Except for the books that may have been owned
or borrowed, the schools furnished the greater part of the reading;
77 per cent o f all the children interviewed said they used the school
library, 70 per cent using it exclusively, whereas only 7 per cent
obtained books from any other library. This meant that more than
one-fifth (23 per cent) o f the children took no library books what­
ever ; these were principally children in the grades below the sixth, o f
whom outside reading was not required, although some were highergrade rural children, who had probably already read everything there
was on the small bookshelf at school. The fact that there were very
few other libraries in or near the places visited is the chief reason
for the small percentage using them.
Most o f the reading of many o f the boys and girls was done in
connection with the West Virginia Pupils’ Reading Circle,4 a plan
o f reading for the upper grammar-school grades that was used
extensively in the territory visited. Practically all the books read
for the circle were borrowed from the school libraries— one reason
why these libraries were used by three-fourths o f the children.
The nature o f the reading, whether required or not, was ascer­
tained by asking each child to name the books he or she had read
in the previous year. While such lists are not entirely accurate and
complete they indicate the reading tastes o f the children, because a
certain amount of selection was possible even among the required
Book lists were obtained from 1,515 children. The number o f
different books named was almost 1,500. Including repetitions,
5,679 book names were given, or an average o f 3.7 books apiece read
during the previous year. West Virginia Pupils’ Reading Circle
books comprised 38 per cent of this total. Doubtless a few books not
on the reading circle list but accepted by certain schools as their
equivalent formed an additional percentage of the remaining books.
The following classification according to type o f book shows the
popularity o f fiction and juvenile books:
Type of books read

Times read

Per cent

Total____________________________________________ 5,6 79


Fiction, other than juvenile--------------------------------------2,371
Juvenile fiction------------------------- --------------- ------------------ 2, 350
Biography and history----------------------------------------------468
Travel, nature, science----------------------------------------------230
Miscellaneous (poetry, drama, essays, m ythology)260


4 The West Virginia Pupils’ Reading Circle was founded by the State department of
education, division of rural schools, as an aid to teachers in the selection of suitable books
for pupils of the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades of the elementary schools and as a
means of stimulating interest among pupils in good reading and in ownership of books.
Diplomas are granted to circle members for the reading of four books as a year’ s work,
and for subsequent years a seal is attached. Special honor seals are granted if eight
books in any list are read during a school year and if books are owned by the reader.
Certificates are given to the school that enrolls 100 per cent of its eligible pupils, and
coupons of credit are granted to teachers who have 100 per cent enrollment of the sixth,
seventh, and eighth grades and finish the reading in any one year, provided as many as
six pupils earn honor.
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Sixteen books, each named fifty times or more, constituted onefourth o f the 5,679 book names given. A ll but two o f these, the
Uncle W iggily books and K ing or the Golden River, were readingcircle books. These books, in the order o f the frequency with which
they were named, were as follow s:

Rick and Ruddy books_______________________ *____________________ 148
Freckles_________________ :___________________________________________129
Biography of a Grizzly_____________________________________________ 114
Tom Sawyer_________
The Man Without a Country______________________________
Treasure Island_______________________________________
Rebecca o f Sunnybrook Farm-------------------------------------------------------- 89
Black Beauty_____ -_________________________^_________l_____ _______ 88
Robinson Crusoe---------------------------- .------------------------------------------------- 85
Little Women_______________________________________________________ 81
Biography o f Abraham Lincoln_________________ _________________
Hoosier School Boy_______________________ „ _______________________ 68
H eid i_______________________________________________L'J._____ fi.______
Little Men_________________________________________________
U nde W iggily books___________________
King o f the Golden River________________

I t must be taken into consideration in connection with the fre­
quency with which these books were named that practically every
school visited had them in the library, and some o f them had few
It is interesting to compare these books with the favorites o f two
groups o f Illinois children.5 Three o f the same books—Treasure
Island, Tom Sawyer, and Little Women—were mentioned among the
first 16 named as favorites by 784 boys and girls in high schools,
while Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, and Robinson Crusoe were
among the first 16 named as favorites by 573 children in institutions.

The family automobile, whether used primarily for business pur­
poses or not, must be included among the recreational assets o f any
home. Accordingly, each West Virginia child interviewed was asked
the question, “ Does your father or anyone else in the family have a
car ? ” Seventy-three per cent o f the country children and 55 per cent
o f the town and village children answered in the affirmative. These
figures are lower than those given in a study made by the United
States Department of Agriculture.6 In reply to questionnaires dis­
tributed among children in the different States, 85 per cent o f the
children living on farms and 76 per cent o f the children living in
villages said that their parents had automobiles.
The family car reported by the West Virginia children was some­
times a truck, and as such it served the double purpose o f carrying
the family to town and the produce to market. A number o f chil­
dren said that their fathers had cars but no license tags. Some­
times it was because they could not afford tags, sometimes they were
economizing by not buying them during the winter and early spring
months when the car would have been o f little or no use because many
6A Recreation Study of 1,357 Illinois Children, by Claudia Wannamaker, supervisor of
recreation, Institute for Juvenile Research, p. 5. Department of Public Welfare, State of
9Attitude and Problems of Farm Youth, A Preliminary Report, p. 15. United States
Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Agricultural Economics and Extension Service
cooperating, November, 1926.
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back roads were impassable. One-half of the tax could be saved by
getting a license for summer and fall only.
When asked i f they ever used an automobile alone, 173 children,
147 o f whom were boys, replied in the affirmative; 50 made daily use
of them and 56 used them once a week or oftener. More than half of
the boys and girls who drove cars alone were under 16 years o f age
and 22 were under 14 years. Some o f these children drove to school
every day and often took friends with them. Others went to town
regularly on Saturday. In two o f the small towns visited, evening
and Sunday automobile riding among boys and girls o f high-school
age was one o f the most popular pastimes, according to the reports
not only from the young folks themselves but from the adult com­
munity leaders.

A pleasure trip or outing of any kind, whether it is a prolonged one
in the summer time, or only a trip to a near-by town, has recreational
value both for young folks and for adult members o f the family. It
may be an event of real importance to the farm boy or girl whose
horizon is practically limited to the stretch o f road and fields between
home and the rural school. The extent to which trips, picnics, and
other outings may be indulged in depends largely on the home cir­
cumstances. In the present survey, however, no inquiry was made
into such features as the financial status o f parents and their attitude
toward recreation.
Summer outings.

The nature o f the recreation that West Virginia young folks
enjoyed in the vacation months was ascertained by asking each child
to tell about the outings he or she had taken during the previous
summer. Trips o f all kinds were named, also visits to relatives,
attendance at fairs, picnics, parks, and camps. Though the number
o f such events could not always be remembered, most o f the boys and
girls could tell whether they had had any trips and could name places
visited. Ten per cent o f the 1,921 children who replied to this ques­
tion went nowhere, not even to a picnic. When the children were
classified according to the type o f school they attended, it was dis­
closed that 20 per cent o f those attending remote rural schools, 10 per
cent o f those attending more accessible rural schools, and 8 and 6 per
cent, respectively, o f the village and town school children had had
no outings.
One reason why a larger percentage of the town school children
than o f those attending rural schools had good times in summer was
that many o f them lived in the town itself and had more playmates
and neighbors and therefore more opportunities for picnics and joint
family affairs. In the case o f the farm children attending town
schools the larger summer program was probably due to the fact
that their interests were multiplied when they began coming to town
high school. By being brought in contact with boys ana girls of
their own ages they learned o f new opportunities for good times,
such as going to parks, fairs, or camps. They introduced younger
brothers and sisters, and often parents as well, to new summer
The club activities o f all kinds that were found in the larger
schools also provided group interests that found expression in the
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summer time through hikes, roasts, and camping trips. A t least
this would seem to be the reason why only 4 per cent o f the children
who were club members had no summer outings as compared with 13
per cent o f the nonclub members.
Nine-tenths o f all the children interviewed enjoyed one or more
summer outings, and in many cases other members o f the family took
part In them. The different kinds of outings named may be grouped
under four main headings as follow s:
(1) One-day outings of a purely social or recreational nature,
such as picnics, family reunions, automobile trips, hunting or fish­
ing trips, visits to parks, and circuses or carnivals.
(2) One or two day outings at places having educational features,
such as State or county fairs, institutes, Chautauquas, and camp
(3) Camping out, individually or with companions, in woods or
at organized camps like those for the 4-H clubs and the Boy and Girl
(4) Overnight or longer trips to visit relatives or friends, or for
sight-seeing purposes.
For convenience these four groups may be referred to as picnics,
fairs, camp, and trips, respectively.
A little more than one-fourth (28 per cent) had only one kind of
outing, about one-third (32 per cent) had two kinds, 22 per cent had
three kinds, and 8 per cent had four kinds.
One-day outings o f the picnic variety were the kind most fre­
quently named by all children no matter where they lived or what
kind o f school they attended, overnight trips came next, and fairs
and camps third and fourth. Table 9 shows what a small percentage
o f the children in isolated school districts, as compared with those
in other school groups, enjoyed these different summer-time pleas­
ures. The town school children enjoyed all kinds in greatest
T abl® 9.— Percentage o f children attending rural and village and tow n schools
having specified typ e o f sum m er outings in five counties of W est Virginia
Percentage of children enjoying—
Type of school




As outside contacts by other members of the family may con­
tribute much to family life? the children were also questioned as to
trips and various other outings made by their parents and by their
brothers and sisters. Among rural children who answered this ques­
tion, 90 per cent said that one or more members of their families had
taken some kind o f trip or outing the previous summer. Ninety-four
per cent o f the town and village children gave the same answer. The
family car doubtless made possible many o f these outings, especially
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



the 1-day trips. It was by no means a requisite, however, because
nearly as many children whose families did not possess a car reported
family outings as those who did have cars. (Table 10.)
T able 10.__ Percentage o f children in fam ilies having fin automobile according
to the land o f outing taken by som e m em ber o f the fam ily in five counties of
W est Virginia
Percentage of children
in families having—
Kind of outing

No auto­

Trips to town.

For many rural children, whose lives were uneventful, a trip to
town was a real recreational activity even though it was made pri­
marily for shopping or other business purposes. The word town
had different connotations for those living in different localities.
To some boys and girls it meant one o f the large industrial cities,
like Wheeling, Moundsville, or Wellsburg. T o those living farther
away from the Ohio River, it usually meant one o f the smaller rural
towns whose stores and other enterprises catered largely to the farm­
ers and near-by country residents.
' ■ I f the trip was made only once a week or less often, it was usually
on Saturday, because there was no school then, and the boys and
girls could often be o f assistance to their parents in selling produce
and in bringing back the family groceries. A number o f country
boys, small ones included, spent the day in or about the city, either
peddling eggs and poultry from trucks or wagons or tending a
market stand with their fathers.
Both the boys and girls liked to shop, nearly one-third (o l per
cent) o f those who went to town at all giving this as their only
reason for the trip. The younger children more often accompanied
adult members o f the family, who really did the errands while the
children “ just sat in the ca r” or “ ran around the streets and
“ watched the sights.” Several children mentioned a visit to the
five-and-ten-cent store asi an event o f special interest.
Shopping was often combined with other errands like music
lessons and appointments with doctors and dentists. A movie or a
call on a town relative or friend frequently added interest to the day.
Some young folks, the boys more particularly, went to town solely
for recreation. This usually meant either going to the movies or
visiting friends. Occasionally it was to play^ pool or baseball or to
attend a social affair, but more often it was just to meet the crowd
and “ fool around.” The drug store with its soda fountain was a
popular meeting place in the small towns.
Seventy-five rural children said they went to town only to attend
school there; but like other children who came in from the farms,
they probably attended some social affairs at the school, and without
doubt did occasional errands for the family.
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Church services attracted many families to town. Fifteen children
said the church service was the only occasion on which they ever
made the trip. There were many others, however, who named at­
tendance at church or Sunday school as one o f the several reasons
for going to town.
For a few boys and girls it seemed that the only reason for going
to town was to see the barber, the doctor, or the dentist. Even the
dentist’s office, however^ was robbed o f some o f its terrors by the
fact that window shopping could be indulged in afterwards. More­
over, a trip for such a purpose, as for others, often meant a ride, and
this in itself was a source o f pleasure.
About one-sixth (326) o f the children in the survey lived within
the limits o f small towns or villages having stores, churches, schools,
and recreational facilities that met most o f the needs o f the family.
These towns were the centers to which many o f the rural children o f
the survey came. Consequently the boys and girls living in them
were not asked about trips to town. A ll other children, however, were
questioned as to the frequency o f their visits to the town where they
and their families usually went for business and recreation. They
were also asked about the distance from home to town and the means
o f transportation used.
Replies to the above questions revealed that 9 per cent o f the chil­
dren who lived on farms or in small country villages went to town
daily; 17 per cent several times a week; 24 per cent weekly; 27 per
cent from one to three times a m onth; 18 per cent once or only a few
times a year; and 6 per cent less often, i f ever.
Among the 1,473 boys and girls who reported going to town, a few
lived in the outskirts, 4 per cent within 1 mile, and 12 per cent be­
tween 1 and 2 miles o f the center. Nearly three-fifths (56 per cent)
lived 5 miles or more from town, and 21 per cent, 10 miles or more.
The frequency o f trips to town, as might be expected, was determined
to a great extent by the distance to be traveled. O f the total children
interviewed, 346, or 18 per cent, either lived in town or remained in
town for school, going home for week-ends. Ninety-three did not go
into town at all, and 17 did not report. The percentage o f children
living within certain distances from town and*the frequency o f their
visits is shown in the following table:
T a b l e 11 .— Percentage o f children living w ithin certain distances from town as

related to frequency o f visits to tow n in five counties o f W est Virginia

Percentage of children living within
certain distances from town
Frequency of visit
than 2

3 to 6 times a week........................................ .
Twice a week................... ...................................
Once a week______________________________
1 to 3 times a month____________________
4 to 11 times a year___________________
1 to 3 times a year_______________________
In summer but rarely in winter___________________
1 Less than 1 per cent.
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2 miles, 5 miles,
10 miles
than 5 than 10 or more







The family car or truck, or that o f a neighbor, was the most usual
means o f transportation for more than half the children who went
to town. A horse and wagon served the purpose when roads were
bad. Those living more than 2 miles away were especially dependent
on the car or the horse, except a few whose homes were on or near the
main roads out o f the larger cities, where trolley cars, and some­
times trains, accommodated country residents. In a few rural com­
munities bus lines or cheap taxi service was maintained, but children
were not so apt to make use o f these means of transportation. Onefifth o f the boys and girls walked to town, when they went, although
a number admitted that they u caught a chance on a ride ” now and
then, especially if the distance was great.

The two requirements for making the home a satisfactory recrea­
tion center are an atmosphere that makes wholesome play possible
and some physical equipment.
A wider program o f education is needed to teach parents the value
o f recreation for both their children and themselves. A wholesome
play atmosphere is largely dependent on the attitude o f parents
toward play and playmates. Every child needs companions. Many
o f his activities are o f a social type, and the rural boy or girl, espe­
cially if he has no brothers or sisters near his own age, should have
the cooperation o f his parents in the arrangement o f his home pro­
gram, so that there may be opportunities for play in his own home
as well as in his friends’ homes. I f visitors are not welcome, the
child will soon learn that his recreation must be sought elsewhere.
Not only should parents permit their children to play but they
should also be interested in their activities and play with them fre­
quently. Family participation in both quiet games and sports, in
music and reading aloud, and a genuine enjoyment o f leisure by the
family group are the antidote for spare time spent “ iust sitting
around,” “ rocking on the porch,” or “ just doing nothing.”
A family picnic, a visit to the county fair, or even a trip to town
is a delightful activity. While these excursions are outside o f the
home, they enrich family life through the sharing o f new experiences
and frequently through the discovery o f unappreciated values in
familiar pleasures.
Nature offers much to the country boy and girl, and the only equip­
ment that is necessary for its enjoyment is the introduction o f chil­
dren to their natural surroundings. Children should be taught to
observe trees, flowers, and birds, and, when they become sufficiently
interested, to read books to learn more about them. Books for read­
ing aloud or for individual enjoyment should be in every home. In ­
expensive editions o f standard books may be used as gifts, exchanged
with friends, discussed, and enjoyed. The great number o f chil­
dren who named reading as their special interest (see p. 80) indicates
the contribution a home library can make to their happiness.
Musical instruments may be costly and beyond the reach o f some
farm folks, but the presence o f either a phonograph or a radio in
the homes o f two-thirds o f the children indicates the ability o f the
majority o f rural families to acquire some means of enjoying music.
The value o f creative music, as compared with mechanical, can not
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



be overemphasized. Youth is active, and the music that a child
creates is the kind that brings the greatest satisfaction. A home that
possesses musical instruments, no matter how simple, and encourages
their use for family enjoyment is richer than the one that has the
most costly radio set on the market or even a grand piano i f it serves
only as a piece o f furniture. Playing and singing together should
be encouraged in the home, particularly since little is done in the
rural schools.
The home that has children in it also needs to make some provision
for games. Equipment need not be expensive. A barrel hoop on the
side o f the barn for basket-ball practice, some horse shoes, a croquet
set, discs and pushers for deck shuffle on the porch floor, the boards
and men for chess or checkers, cards and other equipment for quiet
games that can be used by the whole family at night—these are the
things that make boys and girls contented at home, especially when
father and mother also put their strength or skill into the game.
Much o f the equipment can be made by those who will use it. Handi­
crafts, especially the use o f carpenter’s tools, are one o f the activities
that a father can enjoy with his boys.
In order that directions for making equipment, rules for games,
suggestions for music, trips, or family parties, and lists o f good
books for family use may reach interested parents, articles such
as many o f the household magazines carry should be put into the
small-town and city newspapers that go to rural subscribers. The
bulletin service o f the United States Department o f Agriculture
and the Sunday-school papers can also be o f use in suggesting such

The church is generally recognized as one o f the most important
channels through which social life can be provided for a community.
In rural areas the church has the, opportunity to fill a large place in
community social life, because there are few other existing agencies
for bringing rural folk together. Its degree of success or failure in
the territory visited will be noted later. Most town and city churches
provide a variety of social activities for their members, who now
include not only townspeople but certain near-by farm xolks, espe­
cially those living on good roads and possessing a family automobile.
While it is often to find the denomination o f their choice that farm
people go to the city, it may be that some are attracted by the broader
programs offered there.
In order that the extent to which the church enriched the social and
recreational life o f the boys and girls in the area visited might be
ascertained, each child in the personal interview was asked about his
or her affiliation with church and Sunday school and attendance at
church social affairs during the previous year. In addition, as a
check on the information given by the children, a special survey was
made of the churches most frequently mentioned, the majority of
which were located in or near the school communities visited.

Types of churches and services.

The number of churches aoout which data were obtained was 89.
This was only about half the number named by the children, but it
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



included the churches attended by the majority o f the boys and girls
interviewed. The churches omitted from the survey were: (1) Bemote ones mentioned by only one or two children; (2) some o f the
churches where there was no regular minister or where he could not
be found; (3) certain city churches, each o f which was attended by
only a few o f the children interviewed. The churches that were
included, however, constitute a fair sample o f all the types mentioned
and consisted o f 38 town, 22 village, and 29 rural or open-country
The town and the village churches were more or less similar from
the standpoint o f organization and order o f services. The country
churches varied considerably; some had regular weekly services with
both preaching and Sunday school, and a midweek meeting besides,
and others, principally in remote sections, were limited to one or the
other type o f service, and this at irregular or infrequent intervals, as
“ Sunday school only,” “ preaching every other Sunday,” or “ prayer
meeting when we can get a preacher.” In eight rural communities
where schools were visited, Sunday services were held in the schoolhouses; and in one isolated locality a Sunday school was conducted
in a private home by a motherly woman who thought it was too bad
for the little boys o f the neighborhood to have nothing to do on
Sunday but play marbles. These nine semiorganized groups were not
included among the 29 rural churches, all o f which occupied buildings
erected for the purpose, though many o f them were poor.
Physical equipment.

Few o f the open-country churches had any equipment for carrying
on social programs. Most o f them had nothing but the church prop­
erty itself, a 1-room frame building o f the familiar type, with the
barest necessities for furnishings. There was one notable exception
in a fine 2-story brick church which had a seating capacity o f 800 and
had as a part o f its equipment curtains for partitioning off class­
rooms, and cooking facilities for serving as many as 600 people. In
another rural community an enterprising Ladies’ A id Society had
built a separate social hall and kitchen, and this was frequently used
not only by the church people but by other community groups. ^Only
one other kitchen was found among the country churches visited,
although several had makeshifts o f various sorts for serving suppers
to large numbers o f people. Sometimes they borrowed the schoolhouse for this purpose. Libraries were almost unheard o f in rural
churches. One church possessed a library o f 35 volumes, but the cir­
culation was said to be ■small.”
Village churches were typically rural in appearance and on the
whole were o f only a little better type than those found in the open
country. Among the 22 included in the survey there were 5 excep­
tions, these being o f brick construction with modern equipment, in­
cluding electric lights, organ, and large Sunday-school room with
movable seats and a stage. The average seating capacity o f village
churches was slightly larger than that o f rural churches, and they
sometimes had separate classrooms, but modern equipment was scant
in most o f them. One village church had made the basement into a
social hall, and a union church in another village held social affairs
in the old building that one o f the societies had occupied before the
consolidation. With a few exceptions, cooking facilities were poor
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



or lacking. Five village churches had libraries; only one contained
more than 100 volumes.
O f the 38 town churches included in the survey, about one-third
had regular cooking facilities, 4 had social halls, and 8 had libraries.
As would be expected, the church buildings were larger and on the
whole more attractive than the rural ones, and the majority had space
and facilities for social programs o f various sorts. There was a de­
cided line o f demarcation, as far as physical equipment was con­
cerned, between town churches and those in villages and in the open
Attitude of leaders.

Certain denominations in both town and rural branches objected
to social programs, some excluding musical instruments from their
buildings, but in general the town churches encouraged recreation
programs more than the rural ones. In some churches the feeling
against social affairs was due to the minister’s critical attitude, but
in several places it was the congregation who criticized because he
had tried to introduce athletics or a broader social program. In the
majority o f churches, however, there was no such feeling to over­
come. The Ladies’ A id Society or other church organization was
often the chief agency for bringing people together. The limit on
social affairs in most rural churches was set by the church equipment
and available leadership rather than by objections from the members.
Social activities.

Among the 89 churches included in the survey, 19 had 4 or more
organized groups o f various types, 15 o f these churches being in
towns, 3 in villages, and only 1 in the open country. Sixteen churches
had 3 organizations each, 14 had 2, and 24 had only 1. Sixteen
had none whatever; 7 of these were rural churches, 3 village, and
6 town churches.
Organizations for women were far more numerous than any other
kind. The second in number were those for mixed groups o f young
men and women, such as the Epworth League and Christian Endeaver. In churches where but one organization was supported it was
invariably one o f these types, usually Ladies’ A id or Guild. Organi­
zations for men or for boys were found in a few churches in towns
or villages, but only one, a boys’ basket-ball team, was found in
rural churches. This team used the gymnasium o f the consolidated
school near by.
Adult organizations.—The Ladies’ A id or Women’s Guild, by what­
ever name it was known, existed primarily to raise money for the
church but had its social and educational purposes as well. F iftythree o f the 89 churches had such organizations. In many places
the women met weekly to do quilting in addition to holding regular
monthly meetings. The weekly quiltings, at which small groups sat
around a wooden frame and set tiny stitches in a coverlet for which
some one would pay a certain amount per spool o f thread used, were
very useful as social affairs. The area selected for the study seemed
to have an insatiable demand for quilts, for they were being made
by groups o f church women everywhere. Besides quilting, the ladies’
organizations served one or two annual dinners, frequently in con­
nection with a bazaar or sale, gave plays, and sponsored the produc­
tion o f plays from other communities.
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It was interesting to find such an organization acting in place of
a parent-teacher club in one rural community, and in another com­
bining its program with that o f the rural farm women’s club because
the women wanted the information presented by such an organiza­
tion but did not feel that they could support a separate club.
Other adult organizations were not so numerous. Missionary so­
cieties organized for welfare, educational, and social purposes usually
met monthly and held one or two annual public programs. These
organizations were more popular in the larger communities, 14 being
found in the 38 town churches as compared with 5 in the 22 village
churches and 3 in the 29 open-country churches.
Organized Sunday-school classes for men and women were found
in many o f the town churches but in few rural ones. Some o f these
undertook charity or other definite w ork; others merely held occa­
sional business and social meetings in addition to their Sunday
Young 'people's organizations.— The Epworth League, Christian
Endeavor, Young People’s Union, and similar organizations that hold
Sunday-evening religious services and occasional social affairs were
found in about two-thirds o f the .city and village churches and in
about two-fifths of the open-country churches. In two rural com­
munities the young people of all the churches in the neighborhood
met in a union organization, holding their services in the different
churches in turn. In a report prepared by the American Country
Life Association it is stated that a young people’s society exists in
25 per cent o f the open-country churches and in 47 per cent o f the
village churches.7 This is a smaller percentage than was found in
the present survey, 12 o f the 29 rural churches visited having either
an Epworth League or a Christian Endeavor Society. The programs
o f some o f these organizations, however, consisted only o f religious
and business meetings, and added little or nothing to the recreational
life o f their members.
The societies that actually had social or club programs and were
being attended by the children interviewed included 23 organized
Sunday-school classes, 16 young people’s societies (Epworth League,
Christian Endeavor, Young People’s Union, Girls’ Friendly Society),
9 missionary societies, and 5 miscellaneous church clubs. In some
places these organizations were responsible for most o f the social
programs o f the young people, planning picnics and other outdoor
affairs in summer and sponsoring plays and parties during the fall
and winter.
A ll but two o f the organized Sunday-school classes were in village
and town churches. The small number o f persons o f any particular
age group in rural churches made organization o f such classes diffi­
cult. It was pointed out that the nature o f farm work and the dis­
tances between homes militate against the attendance o f young people
at midweek evening affairs. The problem o f leadership was also a
serious one in many communities. Besides the usual Bible study
hour on Sunday, 14 classes held regular monthly business meetings
7 The Status o f Farm Youth, p. 21. Prepared by the W ashington Group o f the American
Country L ife Association for use at the Ninth Annual Conference o f the Association, Nov.
10 -14, 1926. W ashington, 1926.

74601°— 31------ 4
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



and social affairs at which games and special features were enjoyed
and refreshments were served. Three classes met twice a month for
good times. The other seven met irregularly, but had several social
gatherings during the year and raised money by means o f various
kinds o f sales and entertainments.
Whole-membership affairs.— The social activities given for the
whole church membership were principally o f three kinds. First in
popularity were the special-day programs in which the various de­
partments o f the Sunday school took part. These were planned to
celebrate church holidays and were usually held on Sunday, although
the Christmas celebration sometimes was given on a week day, when
the program was based on fairy lore as well as Bible stories. In the
larger churches pageants and short dramatic episodes were frequently
given instead o f the old recitation and song programs. Several
ministers and church leaders said that help in selecting and pre­
paring better numbers would be appreciated. Others said that indi­
vidual churches would soon have to give up programs on such occa­
sions as Christmas and Easter unless they could combine with the
school to give one good one; under existing conditions the children
were rushed with rehearsals and .the adults were bored with poor
The second type o f popular entertainment was the church social;
many kinds were mentioned, such as pie, box, penny, and pound
socials, and numerous others. In some places a social had a set
program o f music and speeches, ending with the sale o f the pies,
boxes, or whatever refreshments were supplied, and in other places
the first part o f the evening was spent in games, followed by refresh­
ments that sometimes were not sold but were served by the entertain­
ing group. Such socials were very popular. One Sunday-school
teacher said that her class attendance on Sundays was not good, but
that she could “ crowd the house ” with a social. Several others said
the young people seemed hungry for such parties. In summer the
Sunday-school picnic was the principal social gathering for a number
o f churches. Some o f the young people who were responsible for
these socials had had training in game leadership and program
planning, usually through 4-H camp experience.
The third type o f activity was distinctly money making but ranked
high as a social affair nevertheless. The church supper, with or
without bazaar features, was the most popular means o f raising
money in rural communities. As in most o f the programs, the
women worked the hardest and seemed to enjoy the affairs most. In
churches where adequate cooking facilities were available in the
church building, the women gathered early and worked at the
preparation o f food all day. When the church had no kitchen, the
various items on the menu were apportioned among the women, who
prepared them at home and came in the afternoon to arrange the
tables and visit one another. The annual or semiannual dinners o f
some o f the rural churches were well-established affairs to which
people came from all directions. Former members who had moved
to town often returned to renew acquaintances, and people from
other communities came to visit friends and attend the supper. Sur­
prisingly large numbers were fed in small churches; this was for­
tunate, since the minister’s salary frequently depended upon the
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proceeds o f the slipper. Suppers and bazaars were common in the
town churches also, but plays, entertainments, and concerts by home
or outside talent were the more popular means for raising money in
the town churches included in this survey.
One o f the religious features o f the year could almost be called a
fourth type ox social affair. This was the annual revival, in which
all' people, old and young, participated. The regular minister was
frequently assisted at these meetings by an exhorter, who sometimes
brought a musician with him. All-day meetings were held, and
families living at a distance brought their dinners and spent the noon
hour picnicking in the churchyard and visiting their friends. Sev­
eral children mentioned attendance at the revival as one o f the good
times they had enjoyed during the summer.

Attendance at church and Sunday school.

Inquiries regarding church attendance revealed the fact that 230
children (12 per cent) had had no church contact during the year be­
fore the survey. Twenty-four others had been present only at some
social program. Almost four-fifths o f the children who never went to
church lived in the country on farms or in very small settlements,
ih e majority o f all children, however (69 per cent o f those living in
the country and 80 per cent o f those living in towns and villages),
said they went to both church and Sunday school. A few went to
but one service, 8 per cent to Sunday school only, and 6 per cent to
church only. No systematic attempt was made to check the regu­
larity o f attendance, but it was evident from the children’s own re­
marks that church-going for some, especially those living on isolated
farms, was seriously interfered with during the winter months. 441
go when the roads are not too bad,” was a frequent remark. One 16year-old boy living on a Webster County farm said he went to
church and Sunday school in the summer time and as long afterward
as he could get the car over the road. Others could go only as often
as the church was open, 44every other Sunday,” or 44occasionally
when a student can come to preach.” Several Sunday schools held
sessions only in summer or at infrequent intervals.
In spite o f such obstacles as inclement weather, bad roads, long
distances, and lack o f church privileges, it is safe to say that a large
proportion o f the children interviewed went to church quite reguI f was not unusual for country young folks to attend two
dmerent churches, especially where services conveniently alternated,
borne went to town for the morning services and in the afternoon
attended a local mission Sunday school in a rural school near by.
High-school students who lived on farms and attended city schools
sometimes had two church affiliations. Going to church and Sunday
school was an important part of the week’s social, as well as religious,
program for many boys and girls, because it was the occasion for
meeting friends not seen on week days, and not infrequently it meant
an automobile ride with the family or neighbors.
Membership in church organizations.

Few o f the children interviewed belonged to young people’s organi­
zations that carried on social or club programs. Among the 617
children attending rural churches, o f which 64 were represented, only
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



IT belonged to such organizations. Though children attending vil­
lage and town churches had more opportunities for social activities
in the churches, the numbers o f children included in the study who
belonged to any kind of young people’s organization in these two
types o f churches were only 51 and 67, respectively.
Thus the church organizations for young people in the districts
visited were able to make only a small contribution to the recrea­
tional life o f the young people; a total o f only 185 (7 per cent o f the
number interviewed) were connected with church societies that pro­
vided any social programs for their members.
Attendance at social affairs.

Church activities o f an essentially social nature, such as suppers,
sales, box socials, plays, and special-day programs, were not attended
by the boys and girls to the same extent as the religious meetings,
only 46 per cent o f all children reporting attendance at any kind o l
church social affair during the previous year. Only one-third o f the
children 10 years o f age went to such affairs, but the proportion
gradually increased with age until it reached 61 per cent o f those 16
years and over. These percentages are based on all children inter­
viewed, whether or not they had any church affiliations.
Among boys and girls actually affiliated with churches as members
o f the Sunday school or congregation, 52 per cent reported attendance
at church socials. The percentages varied somewhat according to the
location o f the home church, being 49, 52, and 56, respectively, m
rural, village, and town churches. Since the number o f such social
events attended during the year could not be accurately obtained, it
is difficult to draw conclusions as to what real contribution they made
to the recreation o f the young folks concerned. The quick response
and the interest they showed when asked about parties, plays, and
similar events were the best evidence that they thoroughly enjoyed
these gatherings, many expressing regret that they ‘ couldnt get
t o 20«

Seventeen per cent o f those affiliated with churches did not_attend
any socials during the year because none was held in their own
church; this was one reason why the attendance at socials was smaller
than that at Sunday services. Another reason was that many chil­
dren living at a distance from the church were not allowed to go to
evening affairs alone, while on Sunday morning or afternoon they
were expected to go to the religious service. Moreover, the kind
o f programs offered did not always appeal to young children but
were better suited to the later “ teen age ” and to adults. This was
especially true in the rural churches where the organizations were
mainly womcn^s societies. The children who attended suppers and
plays were principally the ones whose mothers had an active part in
the preparations. The whole family went in such cases, because
interest was strong. The fact that many social affairs were o f a
money-making nature, and admission was charged, doubtless kept the
children o f poorer families from attending.
Participation in programs.

When the children were asked about the part that they took m
such affairs, only 18 per cent replied that they had done anything
more than attend. The girls were more active than the boys, 22
per cent reporting some participation in the programs during the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



previous year as compared with only 13 per cent of the boys. Reci­
tations, singing in groups, and acting in plays and pageants were
events o f importance for the younger children, and the few who did
take such parts were eager to tell o f them. A few o f the older boys
and girls worked also on social committees, and sometimes the girls
served at church suppers. These were practically the only kinds
o f activities mentioned except in a few churches where athletics
had been encouraged and playing on the basket-ball team was a
much-sought privilege.

The church through its various organizations has an opportunity
to fill in large measure the social needs o f a community, particularly
in rural areas where few other agencies exist. It would seem that i f
the rural church is to finance a broad and continuous social program
and provide adequate equipment for such a program, with a view
to bringing together more people of the same ages and interests and
making the best use o f available talent for leadership, there should
be some combination of forces among the numerous small congrega­
tions that now exist in many rural areas. Ministers employed in
these communities were, for the most part, working toward consoli­
Some o f the ministers served 4 or 5 churches; one served 14.
These men had very good reasons for advocating consolidation o f
churches. In the few cases where consolidation had taken place,
satisfaction was expressed. In one community where a consolidated
school had led the way, the women o f the four churches met monthly
in a joint Ladies’ Aid. A t a country-life conference the idea o f con­
solidating the three Methodist Episcopal churches was considered
as a possibility within the next decade. The consolidation o f the
young people’s societies in several localities and o f the Ladies’ A id in
another had worked out very well. Many places need such a com­
bination o f forces because the number o f people o f the same age
group and interests is small and when they are divided into several
groups there are not enough in any one to make it interesting.
A second great need of the rural church is realization o f the im­
portance and value o f good social programs. The majority of
churches encouraged social affairs, and the large number o f rural
folk who patronized suppers, entertainments, and plays in churches
where they were given was evidence that most people enjoyed this
form o f recreation. The programs given in many churches, however,
were tiresome and stereotyped, as the leaders themselves frequently
admitted. Some o f the workers asked for suggestions as to where
they could obtain new and better ideas. Suggestions could be ob­
tained from the literature on program planning, plays, pageants, and
socials, such as is published by various church and other societies.
A regular bulletin service giving seasonal suggestions would be an
immense help to leaders o f young people. Some personal contact
should be established. Once in the fall before the season for celebra­
tions, the church, school, and club leaders o f several communities
might be called together for a day or several evenings to be assisted
by an experienced person in producing some good, simple programs
as demonstrations o f what they themselves could accomplish. They
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



would then be interested in suggestions for other dramatic events,
pageants, and dialogues that could be sent to them. Good party
programs and money-making schemes, as well as special-day pro­
grams and plays, would be a great help to leaders in both rural and
town churches.

The school as a factor in the recreational life o f West Virginia
boys and girls was viewed from the standpoints of physical features
and program. Physical features considered were the location and
type o f building, inside equipment including space and materials for
handicraft instruction, musical instruments, library, assembly halls,
and playrooms, and also outside play facilities such as playgrounds
and provision fo r team games. Answers were sought to questions
like the following: How is the recess period conducted? Arp, chil­
dren left to their own ingenuity and devices, or are they guided and
encouraged by a competent teacher leader? What games do the
children know and play ? What attention is given to team play and
competitive sports? What kind o f social events and entertainments
have taken place during the year, and what organization and other
extracurricular activities o f a combined educational and recreational
nature are provided by the school ? T o what extent do the children
participate in these?
The physical surroundings and equipment o f the school buildings,
and frequently recess activities also, were observed directly. The
number and kinds o f social events were ascertained from the teacher,
and each child was questioned in the personal interview as to his at­
tendance and participation in such events. Several social affairs
were visited in various schools by the agents conducting the survey.

Schools in which children were interviewed could be classified in
the same manner as the churches. Seventy-five schools were visited;
the majority were located in the open country, 41 being one-room
buildings, 3 two-room buildings, and f modem consolidated schools
principally o f brick construction. Fourteen other schools were
located in villages o f less than 500 inhabitants and ranged in size
from a 1-room frame building to a 2-story brick structure with 14
rooms. The remaining 10 schools were in towns and, with one excep­
tion, consisted o f high-school grades only; these were necessarily
larger because they had to accommodate both town and country chil­
dren. Enrollment in the different types o f schools varied from 11 in
some o f the 1-room rural schools to several hundred in the town

Indoor facilities.

The physical equipment of the rural schools ranged from the
1-room building with its stove in the center and its desks and chairs
that must be used whether they fitted their occupants or not, to the
consolidated school, which in most places was well planned, had good
light, and was equipped with comfortable furniture. The village and
town schools varied according to age. In some places modern build
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



ings were in use; in others makeshift arrangements were being tol­
erated, with small likelihood o f immediate improvement.
Provisions fo r domestic science and manual trai/rdng.— Only half
o f the town schools had equipment for domestic-science and manual­
training courses. Cooking facilities were found in two o f the village
schools and in four consolidated ones. In other consolidated rural
schools they were limited to a few pots and pans, dishes for serving
hot lunches, and a smoky oil stove, the presence o f which was in­
variably detected as one entered the building. The one and two
room rural schools had practically no equipment. Little enthu­
siasm was shown over cooking as a school project except in one large
consolidated school, where an excellent lunch was served by the
cooking-class pupils. In this same school much interest was expressed
in a home-economics club that had flourished during the previous
year but had just been broken up because o f the teacher’s resignation.
Manual-training equipment was found in four o f the consolidated
schools and in three o f the village schools. In one consolidated
school very creditable manual-training work was done. The boys
here were so enthusiastic over their projects that they stayed after
hours. Rooms set aside for the purpose were rare. In a few schools
where no regular training was given the boys made kites and toy air­
planes in spare time, with some help from the teacher. In the
1-room rural schools there was little equipment beyond a few hand
tools for emergency use, the boys being called upon to repair broken
steps, chairs, or other furniture. No real instruction was given in
any o f these schools.
Musical instruments.— Every town school and every, rural consoli­
dated school visited had a piano, and most o f them had phonographs
as well. The village schools were not so well supplied, two having
no musical instruments whatever and two having only phonographs.
Twelve o f the rural one and two room schools had no instruments,
and although organs were seen in 21 other rural schools, 10 were
said to be unused either because they were broken or because there
was no one who could play them. Phonographs were owned by
only 16 o f the rural schools, and in the majority o f cases not much
could be said for the tone o f the instrument or the selection o f
records. Except in a few o f the larger schools in towns and villages
where records were used in connection with music-appreciation and
language courses, the phonograph was used principally at opening
and closing times for marching purposes. Occasionally at recess it
afforded amusement for the younger children, and in some schools
it was used regularly for physical exercises. A few o f the teachers
said they taught new songs by borrowing records from the homes.
The reaspns sometimes given for the absence or disuse o f a phono­
graph were that the school had not had money enough to buy one,
that the machine or the records had been stolen, or that the records
were too worn or cracked. Observation proved that the last reason
was not always sufficient.
Libraries.— The number o f books on the school-library shelves,
their condition, and the quality of the reading matter varied with
the general appearance o f the school property and the resources o f
the community. Some excellent school libraries were found in the
towns and in a number o f the villages. Several o f the consolidated
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schools had good collections that were extensively used not only by
the pupils but by members o f their families and others. In the
majority o f the communities visited no other library existed.
The libraries o f the rural schools need not be described at length.
Fifteen o f the forty-four 1 and 2 room schools possessed as many
as 100 volumes, two having more than 200. Too frequently, how­
ever, a single shelf or the top o f an unused organ held all the
volumes in their small library. The meager collection often con­
tained books too advanced or else too simple for the children’s enjoy­
ment, or reference books o f little interest to juveniles, so that the
teachers made such remarks as “ not used a great deal,” “ children
have read them all long ago,” “ the parents used to borrow them, but
they are all read now,” and “ no reading is done to speak of.” The
explanation given for the shabby collections found in some schools
was that no social affairs had been held to raise money for new
books. (F or the use made o f school-library books see Reading
Material, j). 31.)
Auditorium s.—Rooms set aside for assembly purposes were found
in most o f the town schools. A community building served the pur­
pose in one town. In other places a large classroom was used for
assembly during the day; evening affairs took place in the local
masonic hall or in the town theater. Only 4 o f the 14 village schools
had auditoriums. In two o f these they were in combination with a
gymnasium. Classrooms, with extra chairs brought in, served the
needs in other schools.
Auditoriums and gymnasiums were o f special interest in smaller
localities because o f their value as recreational centers for the com­
munity as well as for the students. A combination o f assembly hall
and gymnasium had been worked out satisfactorily in three o f the
consolidated schools. Two had auditoriums without the gymnasium
features, and in two others folding walls made it possible to throw
two classrooms into one for use with a portable stage. A ll these
schools were used for community programs as well as school affairs,
amateur dramatics by adult groups being a popular activity in three
o f them.
One-room schools were sometimes adapted for special programs by
the addition o f extra seats, which were supplied either by placing
planks across the aisles from seat to seat or by borrowing chairs.
Stages and platforms were occasionally built, and temporary cur­
tains were frequently arranged when a playlet or “ show ” was a
part o f the program. A few community affairs were said to be held
in some o f these buildings, but none was reported in the majority o f
the schools.
Playroom s.— Playrooms were built in four o f the consolidated
schools for use in bad weather. In three others the combination
gymnasium-assembly halls were used during recesses. The activity
in the latter during the winter months was usually basket-ball prac­
tice. Some o f the playrooms were light and airy, but one adjoining
inefficient chemical toilets was unventilated, dusty, and offensive in
odor, while another was dark and unattractive.
A playroom was found in only one o f the 1-teacher schools. The
school had been built when the community’s population was larger.
As the school attendance decreased, the second teacher was dismissed,
and the room thus vacated became a play and storage room.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Two village schools each had an extra room that had come into
disuse in a similar way, and these, too, were used for rainy-day play­

It was quite generally true that the schools, especially the 1-room
ones, were built on land that was good for little else. On this ac­
count small buildings were found perched precariously on the edge
o f steep hills, bogged down in swamp land, or located in rough, rocky
meadows cut by streams. In many cases the acre or more o f play
space was o f little or no use to the children for this reason. In one
case the teacher said the children gathered drain tile from a near-by
factory and worked hard at building a drainage system, but they
could not direct the water into it and had given up trying to get a
place to play at the school. The farmer across the road was allowing
them to use a fallow field until planting time. In several cases level
land that could have been laid out for games was ruined by lack of
planning, a woodhouse, well, or the schoolhouse itself being built in
the center o f it.
Thirty-three, or less than half of all the schools visited, had play­
grounds that were equipped to any extent. In some cases this equip­
ment consisted o f a single piece o f apparatus such as a giant stride
or chinning bar; in others a baseball diamond had been rudely laid
out. Only four o f these schools had what could be called wellequipped playgrounds.
Lack of space and facilities for team games were handicaps that
village and town schools faced quite as frequently as rural schools.
In one community where a fairly well-equipped playground had been
provided for the younger children, a baseball diamond for the older
boys had been left out of consideration. The only place these boys
had to play was on a narrow strip o f rough, clay land by the rail­
road tracks, where such obstacles as old ties, broken pipe, and mud
made play difficult. Another illustration is the case of one town
high school whose athletic field was 2 miles away, adjoining the
property of a consolidated school.

The rural teacher faces problems demanding curtailment o f all
activities that can be considered nonessentials. The day’s pro­
gram is very full, especially when it has to meet the varying needs
of six to eight grades. Besides preparing the children to meet
the requirements established by the State department o f education,
the teacher must conform to the ideas o f the local school committee.
In one case this meant that all manual training had to be omitted. In
another the arrangement of special programs was prohibited. In
both cases the reason for these restrictions was the conviction among
board members and parents that the preceding teacher had wasted
school time and money in giving too much handicraft or too many
social events. Several teachers deplored the fact that there was so
little opportunity for the children to enjoy wholesome good times
together and regretted their own inability to meet the recognized
The recreation program o f the schools visited may be divided in to:
(1) Recess play; (2) team practice; (3) social affairs planned and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



rehearsed to entertain the parents as well as to raise money for vari­
ous school projects; (4) organizations, clubs, and special groups fos­
tered either by students or by teachers.
Recess play.

Recess play is important; this fact frequently is not realized.
The noon hour in a rural school offers a particularly good oppor­
tunity for constructive work because only a few o f the children live
near enough to the school to go home. When the teacher uses the
recess time to prepare the afternoon program, clean the room, or
read, or when she forgets to open the windows and take her flock
outdoors, the children are missing not only a good time but an oppor­
tunity to learn wholesome health and play habits under wise super­
In 11 schools the teachers said they took no part in the recess; 15
merely observed the children, usually from indoors, going out i f it
was necessary to quell disorders; 21 sometimes made suggestions and
helped to get the games started; and 22 sometimes played with the
children. In a few schools the teachers who played baseball and
volley ball said that they enjoyed themselves immensely. In an­
other school the teacher, who had serious heart trouble, had trained
the older children to lead games, give the drills, and conduct the
rhythms recommended by the State department o f education. One
teacher had encouraged the boys to build tiny huts in which they
sometimes pretended to camp and at other times dramatized Indian
and cowboy battles.
Nearly all the younger children (10 to 14 years, inclusive) said that
they spent their recess in group play. The activity that was reported
upon and observed most frequently was tag. It appeared under vari­
ous names and had extra features such as odd bases, as in iron or
wood tag, or novelty rules, as in cross tag or rover. Tag is a self­
starting game since children require little provocation to chase each
other. While many other games of little organization were named,
none achieved the general popularity o f tag. Jumping rope and
marbles made their appearances as spring advanced, and one old cat,
knocker, and other variations o f baseball came with them. Although
the children and teachers mentioned games as recess activities, recesses
were observed during which there was no group play. Then the
majority of the children stood in small groups, while a few prankish
ones galloped about bumping into them occasionally in evident en­
deavor to stir them into giving chase.
For the older boys and girls attending village and town high
schools the noon hour was the only recess period. Many went home
for lunch at this time, 20 per cent reporting that they had time for no
other activity. The girls who did not go home generally paired off
with chums or went with groups o f special friends to a lunch room
or drug store; the boys played ball or gathered in groups in favorite
spots such as the restaurant or railroad station. Some few patronized
the pool rooms, to watch, i f not to play. A few o f the high-school
boys and girls chose to study, and others worked at odd jobs in the
village, such as helping in stores and tending counters in lunch rooms.
Team practice.

When asked the question, “ What kind o f sports do you take part in
and enjoy? ” 57 per cent o f all the children (73 per cent o f the boys
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Ju n ior leaders
su ccessfully direct
during recess

Shac\s m ay
harbor early settlers
or border
raiders, especially



their construction
as a recess

The younger
children learn a new
gam e during
the supervised

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Jum ping rope
on a narrow school
wal\ 4 feet
above the road

Hom em ade
equipm ent in


village school
yard is much used
and en joyed

W ood tag is
played on the ordy
level part
o f the schoolyard,
a narrow strip near
the road

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



and 42 per cent o f the girls) named ball games o f all kinds, baseball
predominating, and some track events as sports actively engaged in.
The popularity o f team games was decidedly greater among children
attending the larger schools. The percentages o f boys in the differ­
ent types o f schools who took part in competitive sports were as
follow s: One and two room rural, 57; rural consolidated, 73; village,
78; and town, 94. The corresponding percentages for girls were 25,
38, 45, and 58.
Team play is not a popular activity in the small rural schools,
chiefly because there are too few children of the same age to form a
team. Three of the consolidated rural schools, however, had teams;
one played interclass games only, while the other two had schedules
with other schools in basket ball for both boys and girls, and in base­
ball, football, and track for the boys. Team practice as a recess activ­
ity was reported by only 32 children, all but 4 of whom were pupils
at these consolidated schools. Most o f the real practice playing was
done outside o f the regular school hours.
The school teams in the village and town schools were often a
community project; so much so that in one town the school prin­
cipal felt relieved that inability to secure a hall for practice for a
basket-ball team would remove the danger o f habitual displays of
poor sportsmanship on the part o f the townspeople in case of defeat.
Baseball and basket ball were the games played most commonly with
other schools; football was popular only in the larger towns, partly
because o f difficulty in getting coaches.
Field days and track meets were held in a few places. In Hancock
County the annual field days gave the boys and girls an objective
to work for as well as an opportunity to meet others in competition.
In Brooke County, at the time o f the survey, the boys in one
district were eagerly anticipating a marble tournament. Field days
had been discontinued in Webster County; two of the teachers inter­
viewed regretted this fact, as they felt that the field days had been
o f real educational and recreational value to the children.
Social and special programs.

The literary meetings, special-day programs, socials, and plays
given in the rural schools seemed to be important events in some
communities. A program was given every month or oftener in some
of the schools, while one or two programs a year was the average in
others. Twelve o f the rural one and two room schools had had no
social programs during the year, nine had had only one social affair,
the others \from two to five, one having had six. O f the seven consoli­
dated schools, all but one had held some kind of social affair and
three had had at least six in the course o f the school term. The
auditorium of one o f these schools was in use every week-end during
the winter for some community or school affair. During the season
Friday evenings were devoted to basket-ball games which the whole
community attended.
As to the value o f these programs, the teachers had various opin­
ions. In one small village the teacher hoped to be able to give many
more affairs during the next year because no other amusement o f any
sort was available. Several teachers thought that special programs
were a real contribution to the community social life. Other teach­
ers said that the preparation of speeches and plays took too much
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time from class work, and that the parents did not attend the pro­
grams anyhow, because of lack of interest, very bad roads, or the
competition offered by near-by cities and towns.
The most popular events seemed to be socials of the box and pie
variety and special-day programs prepared to celebrate church or
patriotic holidays. These socials were the means o f raising money
for hot lunches, library books, a phonograph, or playground equip­
ment. Box lunches, pies, and other refreshments were sold, some­
times at auction, after a program had been presented. In some
places the usual program o f speeches and songs was varied by games
and square dancing, but this was not often the case. A social usu­
ally meant that some one must accept the responsibility o f rehears­
ing a group o f children and that person was most often the teacher.
In several communities the church and school combined to present
Christmas programs, the teacher preparing the program while the
church supplied small gifts and a Christmas tree. Such a program
was frequently given at the school in the afternoon and repeated in
the church at night.
Attendance o f children at school social affairs.—Socials and en­
tertainments in schools were attended by a much larger proportion
o f the children than were similar affairs in churches. O f all the
children interviewed, 87 per cent attended at least one such school
affair during the year before the survey, while only 46 per cent at­
tended one or more church social affairs. This difference in interest
is not strange, since daily contacts were made with the school and
school friends, and programs planned by the teacher, in which the
children themselves frequently provided the entertainment, were
bound to draw a large proportion o f the school’s enrollment. A few
o f the children (13 per cent) also enjoyed school parties in neighbor­
ing rural communities and in villages and towns where their older
brothers and sisters or friends were attending high school. Eightyfour children (4 per cent o f the total number) did not attend any
social event at their own schools because none was given during the
year, and only 13 o f these children went to any other school for even­
ing affairs. The schools that had no' socials whatever were chiefly
those in the isolated communities.
In the town schools musical and dramatic entertainment— that is,
concerts, operettas, plays, and pageants—vied with socials and
parties for popularity. The latter were more frequently mentioned
in the rural schools, and the former proved a little more popular in
villages. Each o f these two types of entertainment was attended by
68 per cent of the children, a combination of the two tvpes being
found on the year’s schedule of many schools. Educational pro­
grams consisting o f lectures and exhibits were far less common, only
IT per cent o f all children mentioning attendance at such affairs in
their own or other schools during the year.
Participation in programs.—More o f the boys and girls interviewed
took part in school programs than in church activities, but the num­
ber was not large even so. Just one-half o f the boys and three-fifths
o f the girls contributed to the programs by reciting, singing, taking
part in plays, or working on committees. Many rural children found
it difficult to come to rehearsals, especially in the evening. Some
could not stay after school hours because o f farm duties at home.
Others were obliged to take the bus promptly when school closed.
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Boys and girls with some clnb experience were more apt to par­
ticipate in school and church programs than were other children, as
was demonstrated by the fact that 69 per cent o f the 4-H club mem­
bers, 59 per cent of former 4-H club members, and 52 per cent o f
those who had never been members said they had taken active parts
in church and school affairs in the course o f the year.
Whether or not the children participated in the programs they
enjoyed them immensely; in fact? they appeared hungry for them in
the many places having few social events. A 16-year-old girl in a
1-room rural school said, when asked about attendance at such affairs,
“ I went to the Hallowe’en party outside the door. There wasn’t
room enough inside for all who came.”
Local school clubs.

The fourth feature in the recreational program of schools visited
was the club. Numerous school clubs existed in the village and town
schools. In many cases they were merely extension classes or extra­
curricular groups with some recreational features. Others, such as
dramatic, glee, and oratory clubs, outside o f the regular program of
required subjects, gave children who had special interests an oppor­
tunity to develop them. Teachers volunteered as leaders for these
groups. Frequently they met during school hours, some schools
devoting the period immediately after the noon recess to club meet­
ings. _Others held their meetings outside of school hours. These
organizations usually existed during the school year only and were
reorganized each fall. In some of the village and town schools small
groups, especially among the girls, formed clubs that were not spon­
sored by the school and might or might not have a teacher adviser.
A few o f these were said to meet during the summer vacation. They
had features similar to secret societies, such as election to membership,
and were not included in the teachers’ reports as school organizations.
Only 21 o f these groups came under the definition o f a club in
the sense used in this report; that is, in having a definite project,
meeting at stated intervals outside o f school hours, and having a
social program. Six o f these clubs were o f a cultural nature—art,
literary, and dramatic—5 were definitely organized for school bet­
terment, 5 were domestic-science and handicraft clubs, 2 were ath­
letic associations, 2 were primarily social, and 1 was a business club.
A ll these clubs together had only 56 members among the children
interviewed, and they were principally town and village boys and
girls who were attending high school and were at an age when club
interest is usually strong. Seven rural schools had local clubs, but
only one, a literary society, was filling a real need in the community.
This had been organized by a former 4-H club member with the
hope that it would some time become a genuine 4-H club.
The 4-H clubs, B oy and Girl Scouts, and similar organizations,
although often led locally by school principals and made up chiefly
o f children in one school, were units o f national organizations and
as such carried on programs arranged by county, State, and national
leaders. The activities of these clubs and their place in the recrea­
tional program o f rural young folks will be discussed in the next
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The physical facilities o f the schools were generally found to be
inadequate not only for a well-balanced school recreational program
but for any kind of community social affairs. Several principals
regretted their inability to accommodate such affairs, and in one
neighborhood the community organization was working to raise
enough money to add a gymnasium and a kitchen to a rather new con­
solidated school. When new schools are built their use for recreation
should be kept in mind. This means that there should be provision
for a gymnasium or assembly room, a kitchen, and clean, light, airy
playrooms, as well as classrooms.
While it is possible for a clever leader to promote a good time in
a classroom with stationary seats and desks, a floor space that can
be cleared for games is really needed i f boys and girls are to have a
comfortable and companionable time. In planning new buildings,
movable seats should be provided if funds do not permit the building
o f an assembly room. I f there is to be an extra room available for
play on rainy days or for evening affairs, adequate ventilation and
lighting should be given consideration.
Outdoor play is an important consideration, but few rural schools
had playgrounds. It is essential that an open space be provided that
is level, dry, and large enough to permit the playing o f games with­
out danger to children or to property. It is true that games will be
adapted to the space that is available. Children were found playing
wood tag on a narrow, level strip between a road and a sharp slope,
trying circle games in the drier part of a marshy field, and adapting
baseball to long, narrow spaces along railroad tracks. The majority
o f rural schools and many of the village and town schools had no
good play facilities, although, by planning, a play field could have
been arranged when the school was built. Even now certain obstruc­
tions like stumps and woodhouses could be removed from some school
yards, and simple drainage systems could be installed in others where
mud seemed to be the chief hindrance to play.
Rural-school libraries were found to be exceedingly meager. Since
a large part o f the children’s interest in reading seems to be due to
the efforts made by the schools, it seems fitting that assistance be
rendered through the State board o f education or the county school
board to the rural schools that can not secure funds for adequate
libraries. The fact that these libraries will serve the adults as well as
the children should be kept in mind when selections are being made.
A traveling or loan library system such as is conducted by some
States would be o f inestimable value to rural schools.
Given adequate facilities, the success o f a broad school program,
which should include some o f the fine arts, depends upon the
teacher. It is sometimes not possible to employ specialists in physi­
cal education, dramatics, music, or community organization. It has
been found satisfactory in some places to employ teachers who are
qualified to promote special programs in addition to their classroom
work, which is lightened to compensate for the extra service. Though
this plan is not ideal, it offers a means o f introducing the broader
program to a community through its consolidated school. Another
possible method o f introducing the fine arts to the rural children
would be for the county or some other unit o f administration to
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



employ specialists who could visit the schools on stated days to give
instruction and assist the teachers.
In the 1-room schools more outside help is needed by many o f the
teachers. They said they knew no good new games and had access
to only meager program material. Many o f the teachers appeared
to be unacquainted with the manuals o f physical education and
special-day programs that have been prepared by the State depart­
ment o f education. Unless each teacher receives a copy o f these
manuals each year, a letter asking i f the school copies need replacing
and suggesting seasonal use o f the material in them would help. The
county superintendents might be the persons best fitted to advise upon
these programs.
Because o f the heavy program that is carried by the teachers in
1-room schools, the supervision o f recess play and the preparation o f
special programs are sometimes very difficult. B y inspiring and
training the older boys and girls as game leaders, the teacher can
delegate this work to the children, and her part then will be simply
to keep interest alive. Weekly meetings could be held with these
children to help them plan their programs. In the leading o f recess
play, an older 4r-H club boy or girl may find an excellent community
service project. Training for game leadership should be given with
such a use in mind, and the attention o f the clubs should be called to
this opportunity.
The program-planning institute that has been recommended for
church leaders (see p. 47) would be o f great interest to school­
teachers who in many cases seemed very anxious for help and direc­
tion. A n itinerant worker or two who could conduct institutes and
act as consultant upon community organization and, above all, who
would inspire leaders in the communities to develop programs, would
be o f inestimable value to rural teachers. Such a person, working
with the county superintendent o f schools, as well as with the exten­
sion service and churches, should be able to unite the agencies in a
community so as to develop a well-rounded program in which all
might share. In one consolidated school district the sponsoring
agency for various programs and meetings was very often uncertain
because, as one woman said, “ Everybody goes to everything, and I
don’t just remember who got up what.” This is as it should be in a
unified community. W ith some help in planning and some training
for leaders, such generally attended affairs could be developed to fill
a very real need in many o f the communities visited.

Working with other boys and girls for a common purpose— an
experience that characterizes club activities— is o f great value in the
development o f children. Boys and girls belonging to the Scouts,
4-H clubs, and other national organizations were considered to have
actual club experience.8 Church organizations that met regularly on
days other than Sunday and had as many as four social affairs during
the year were called clubs, but classes and study groups that met for
f.F or statistical purposes in this study it has been necessary to make rather arbitrary
rulings concerning the definition o f a club and the elements constituting membership.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



business only were not. Some school organizations were called clubs,
but if their primary purpose was teaching and they rarely held
social affairs they were not classified as clubs in this survey. Organi­
zations existing independently o f churches or schools were considered
clubs if they had some project; bridge clubs, sewing clubs, and junior
fraternities were typical independent organizations. Newspaper
clubs to which a number o f children belonged by virtue o f writing
one letter for publication were not clubs in the sense used in this
study, because they had no social features nor any real project other
than prizes. Only eight independent clubs were found and only nine
o f the children interviewed belonged to them.
The total number o f clubs to which children o f the survey belonged
either at the time o f interview or during the preceding year was 144;
62 o f these were branches o f national organizations, 4-H clubs pre­
dominating. Church societies numbered 53, school clubs 21, and in­
dependent social clubs 8.9 Thirteen o f the clubs were outside the
selected territory; but they attracted certain children living near
boundary lines, and since they corresponded to those within the
area they were included in the number serving the boys and girls

One-third o f the boys and two-fifths o f the girls were club mem­
bers at some time during the year before the interview. Only 86
girls (9 per cent) and 30 boys (3 per cent) belonged to more than
one club.
. . . . .
Considerable difference was noted between children living in the
country and those living in towns and villages, 43 per cent o f the
latter having been club members within the year as compared with
only 34 per cent o f the country children. Among the town and
village children the proportion who were club members was the
same for both sexes (43 per cent), but it was greater among country
girls (38 per cent) than among country boys (29 per cent). Some
o f the older country boys and girls who came to the town and village
high schools found more opportunities for club work there than in
the rural communities where they lived, so that the percentage of
club members of all kinds among children o f high-school age (over
14) was greater (45) than among those younger (31). Not a few
children retained their membership in their own local farm clubs
even while going to high school in town.
Membership in national organizations, foremost o f which were
the 4-H clubs, far outweighed all other types. ^ This was particu­
larly true in rural schools where membership in one club usually
meant a 4-H club. Churches ^furnished many more club oppor­
tunities in towns than those in less populous places, and school
clubs, especially for girls, seemed to flourish in a number of the
villages visited.
Eighteen per cent o f the boys and 25 per cent o f the girls who
belonged to clubs had held office at some time or other. Three boys
and ten girls had been officers in more than one club. The percentage
o f club members o f both sexes who had ever held office in any club
was 22. In a study o f 4-H club children in Middlesex County,
•For discussion of church clubs see p. 43, school clubs, p. 55.
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Mass.,10 the findings were similar, 24 per cent o f the rural club
children having been officers.

The 4-H club, fostered by the extension service o f the United
States Department o f Agriculture in cooperation with the State
colleges o f agriculture and under the direction o f State club agents,
county farm agents, home-demonstration agents, and local club
leaders, was the only juvenile organization encountered at all gen­
erally in the rural communities, The chief purpose o f this club is
to stimulate interest among farm boys and girls in better farming
and home-making. It has been organized in West Virginia largely
through the schools and to a small extent through local leaders or
older club members; and since it is primarily intended to reach farm
children, its greatest growth has been in rural districts, particularly
in rural villages and in communities sufficiently well organized to
have established consolidated schools. In the more remote farming
areas and in the unorganized communities o f the territory visited few
clubs were found.
Because there was a special interest in the effectiveness of the 4-H
club and the extent to which it reached the boys and girls in the
territory visited, it will be considered in some detail in this report.
Number o f clubs.

A t the time o f the survey clubs were functioning in only eleven of
the forty-one 1-room schools visited, and in one o f the three 2-room
schools. In two other 1-room schools clubs had broken up during the
previous year because o f lack of leadership. One had completely dis­
banded, while the other, inactive during the fall and winter because
the leader had gone away to college, was looking forward to renewed
activity upon her return to the community at the end of the school
year. Each o f the seven rural consolidated schools visited had good
clubs, all but two o f which had been functioning for several years.
Active 4-H clubs existed in 10 of the 13 villages where schools
were visited. One had previously existed in another village but had
been dying a slow death in the past few years, as its older members
gradually left to attend high school in a neighboring town. In one
of the villages where there was no 4-H club, the work o f three other
national organizations was being carried on, Boy Scouts, H i-Y , and
Girl Reserves. In the other village no club o f any kind was found;
this was probably because o f the difficulty of starting any commun­
ity enterprise on account o f two factions which continually opposed
each other.
Only one town 4-H club was found in the territory covered, al­
though schools were visited in nine towns and cities. This club was
not a typical one, as the number o f former members was much
greater than the number o f active ones, and the active membership
was decreasing because o f general dissatisfaction with the leadership
and competition from other clubs, including three well-organized
troops o f Boy Scouts.
10 The Effectiveness o f 4-H Club W oTk; a study o f boys’ and girls’ club work in a cross
section o f Middlesex County, Mass., 1925, p. 24. United States Department o f A griculture,
W ashington, 1925.

74601°— 31----- 5
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Club leaders.

In organizing 4-H clubs the chief problem is leadership. Teachers
were not considered the best choice if any local leader could be se­
cured. One reason given was that teachers and children needed a
change from each other in spare time. On the other hand, one man
said that he had a much more interested and congenial atmosphere in
his school since he and his wife had begun to devote some time to club
Frequently the meetings o f clubs, which were led by teachers,
stopped when school was over and the leaders left town, in spite of
the fact that members of the clubs could have arranged interesting
and wholesome activities. * Both children and teachers lamented
the fact that riding in automobiles, visiting, and a little tennis and
swimming comprised the leisure program. “ A good leader could
render wonderful service here in the summer by working up plays
for there is a keen interest in dramatics, and by planning picnics and
parties and helping the boys and girls to help themselves,” the highschool principal said.
The third point brought out in discussions with teachers was that
a lay leader who works in cooperation with the teachers makes it
possible to enrich the program, bringing the practical experience of
the home maker or the farmer to add to the teacher’s theoretical
The leaders o f the 4-H clubs were teachers in 23 of the 30 clubs
included in the survey. Some had spent several years with their
groups, but the majority were undertaking the work for the first
time. Some excellent clubs were led by teachers. In Webster
County the 8 clubs visited were led by teachers; 5 o f these were for­
mer club members, and 2 others, although having no club experience,
had become convinced that the 4-H program would fill the needs of
their schools. This record is rather exceptional, however, as in the
remaining counties only one teacher leader had been a 4-H club

The program carried out by 4-H club members followed two
general lines, educational and social. The project work selected by
each boy and girl consisted o f one or more definite tasks to be per­
formed, in the nature o f gardening, stock raising, or home making,
and included also the preparation o f reports on the subject and the
exhibition o f results at a county or State fair. The project work was
so heavy in West Virginia clubs that a boy or girl was rarely allowed
to carry more than one a year. Local club leaders had immediate
supervision over this work, and county farm and home demonstration
agents gave advice on special problems. The social life o f the club
consisted o f the regular meetings, usually held weekly at the school
house, the occasional socials or other money-making events, the outof-doors activities like roasts and hikes, and, last but not least, the
summer camp, which nearly every boy and girl expressed a desire
to attend.
A ll but 7 clubs had some social event o f special importance dur­
ing the year. Activities such as sales, box socials, plays, and popu­
larity contests were held by 17 clubs to raise money for camps or
special equipment for their schools during the year. Special-day
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



programs, parties, and picnics were considered to be the outstanding
events in 8 clubs. The exhibits placed in local, county, or other fairs
were the chief interests o f three groups and the annual initiation to
which families and friends were invited was named by two.
While special events added interest to the program, it was the
regular meetings, the project work, the summer camp, and the feeling
o f belonging to the group that made the club important in the child’s
life, and it was one of these features he usually mentioned when he
was asked what he liked best about club work.

Some idea o f the extent to which the 4-H club program reached
rural young folks in the area visited can be formed from the number
o f members found, the percentage o f the children who were members
in schools where clubs existed, and the length o f time they had been
in club work.
One-fourth, or 477, of the 1929 children interviewed had been 4-H
club members during the previous year, and one-fifth, or 886, were
active members at the time of the survey. The girls were better
“ joiners,” 280 (28 per cent) having been connected with a 4-H club
at some time during the year, as compared with 197 (21 per cent) of
the boys. The number o f active members at the time o f the study
was somewhat smaller, 161 boys and 225 girls.
Fifty-seven boys and 82 girls had previously been club members,
but had left more than one year before the survey. Twenty-seven
per cent o f the boys and 36 per cent o f the girls, therefore, had had
4r-H club experience at some time.
Table 12 shows that the largest percentage of club members among
the children interviewed were in consolidated schools. The next
highest percentage was among pupils o f village schools. The per­
centage o f those in one and two room schools was still lower, and the
smallest percentage was in town schools. The percentage that
dropped their membership during the year was the same for all types
o f school except the rural consolidated. It should be noted that 46
out o f 58 club members attending town schools belonged to 4-H clubs
in rural communities or in villages where they previously attended
school, so that the percentage of children belonging to rural and
village school clubs was actually greater than is shown.
T able 12.— Children attending rural, village, and town schools and wumber
and per cent toho were members of Jf-H clubs in five counties of W est
Children attending school who were members of 4-H clubs
Type of school attended

During year of

At date of in­

Dropped out dur­
ing year

Number Per cent Number Per cent Number Per cent
Total____________________ ____








Rural_______________________ . . . . . . .
1 and 2 room____ _______________











Village.___________ _________________
T ow n______________________________


‘ 68


2 41




8 17

1 Of this number 46 belonged to clubs in rural or village schools where they previously attended.
2 Of this number 33 belonged to rural or village clubs.
8 Of this number 13 belonged to rural or village clubs.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis





The real interest of children in rural communities in 4-H clubs
is shown, in Table 13, by the large proportion of children eligible
for club membership who joined a club whenever one had been
organized in the school.
T able 13.— Children attending rural, village, and town schools in which there
were 4-H clubs and number and per cent who were members in five counties
of W est Virginia
Children attending schools with 4-H clubs who were
Type of school with 4-H club


During year of

Dropped out
during year

At date of

Number Per cent Number Per cent Number Per cent
All schools.................... ................








Rural_______________________ _______
1 and 2 room............. ................... __
Consolidated__________ _________








Village.................................... ................
Town_____ ________________ ____ _








1 Of this number 4 belonged to clubs in rural schools and 3 to clubs in village schools where they previously

In nearly all the 32 one and two room schools with no club, one or
more children expressed a wish to be a 4-H boy or girl, and
a number were so interested that the lack o f a club in their own
community could not defeat their desire to be members. Here are a
few examples:
Two children attending rural 1-room schools where there were no
clubs worked independently on 4-H projects. A girl was working
on her third-year sewing project, the club under which she started
having disbanded after her first year’s work. A boy o f 12 u signed
up ” in a 1-room school where a feeble attempt had been made to
organize a club, and even though he was the only boy to take up a
project he carried it through successfully. The county agent went
to see him once a month, and when it came time for the State fair
he had a fine dairy calf to exhibit which won third prize.
Thirteen other children who were pupils in one and two room rural
schools where no club existed sought membership in the club near­
est to them, 11 being active members in these clubs at the time of
the survey. Although they were not able to attend all meetings in
the winter because o f the distance they were obliged to walk over
bad roads, they expressed interest in' club work and looked forward
to the summer meetings.
This marked response o f rural children to a club that affords both
educational and recreational opportunities shows what an impor­
tant part it could be made to play in the lives of many more country
boys and girls if only capable leaders could be secured to carry the
work into more remote districts.
Age of members.

The average age of all active 4-H club members who were inter­
viewed was 13.4 years, with practically no difference shown by sex.
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The United States Agricultural Extension Service found the average
age for both sexes to be 13.8 years in 10 States11 and 14.3 years in
rural areas o f one county in Massachusetts.12 In the club group
studied in West Virginia 38 per cent of all members were 12 or 13
years o f age, one fourth were younger, another fourth were 14 or
15 years, and one-tenth were 16 years or over.
The average age for joining 4-H clubs among the 477 boys and
girls who belonged during the year prior to the study was 12 years.
One hundred and fifty children, or nearly one-third o f the whole
group, began their club membership at 10 years or younger. Only 62
became club members after they were 14, and only 5 after their six­
teenth birthday.
Length of membership.

The average length o f membership up to date o f interview o f all
children who were then attending a 4-H club was 1.8 years. This
was the same as the average found by the United States Department
o f Agriculture for 10 States, but a little above the average (1.5 years)
found in the Massachusetts county.13
More than one-half o f the IVest Virginia children who were active
club members were doing their first year’s work. One reason for
this was the fact that 9 o f the 30 clubs visited were practically new,
having been in existence less than one year. On the other hand, 34
girls and 15 boys had been in club work more than three years.
Twenty-seven children had been active club members for between
four and five years and 15 for five years or more, which explains why
the average length o f membership was more than a year and a half.
The comparative length of time the boys and girls who were active
members had been in club work is shown in Table 14.
T abus 14.— Length of membership in 4-H clubs of bops and girls who were
members at time of interview in five counties of W est Virginia
Length of membership

Total _______
Less than 6 months..
6 months through l year
More than 1 year to 2 years
More than 2 years to 3 years
More than 3 years........



Per cent
Per cent
distri­ Number distri­ Number distri­













The girls showed a slightly greater tendency than the boys to drop
out ox club work, but those who did persevere for at least two years
more apt than the boys to continue over a still longer period.
The findings showed that 29 per cent o f the girls who were still active
club members had belonged more than two years, and 15 per cent
more than three years, whereas only 14 per cent o f the boys had
Data from Extension Studies, p. 9, Extension Service Circular 4 United
States Department of Agriculture, Washington, April 15 1926
“ The Effectiveness of 4-H Club Work ; a study of boys’ and girls’ club work ir a cross
section of Middlesex County, Mass., 1925, p. 18
C1UD worK 11
13Ibid., pp. 3, 20.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



been members more than two years, and only 9 per cent more than
three years.
Reasons for leaving club.

Ninety-one children, 36 boys and 55 girls, dropped their member­
ship in the 4-H club during the preceding year. Twenty-five had
been members less than 6 months, 32 from 6 months to a year, and
32 for more than a year. Two children did not report the reason
for leaving their club. Twenty children said that their club “ broke
up,” 11 moved away from the community, and 19 others were un­
able to go to meetings for reasons they could not control, as too great
a distance, bad roads, unsuitable hour, ill health, too great expense,
or parental objections. Seventeen children said that it took too much
time, some o f these being high-school students who were obliged to
go to town to school and had more studying to do than formerly.
Ten children said they were uninterested, one of these frankly ad­
mitting a dislike for the leader, while five had become discouraged
over their projects. There should have been within the club itself'
some means for helping these last 15 boys and girls when lack of
interest and discouragement were the only reasons for giving up their
Activities liked.

The question “ What do you like best about 4-H club work %” was
answered by 450 boys and girls who had been members during the
year of the study. The project work of the club was named by 202
children as the feature they most enjoyed. It was also mentioned as
one of several activities best liked by 77 other children, making a
total o f 279, or 62 per cent o f these 4-H members, who said they par­
ticularly enjoyed their projects. Only a little more than half of the
members spoke o f the recreational' activities either as the only side
o f club life they cared for or as one of several. This included the
meetings, programs, the special entertainment features occasionally
offered, and camping. Only 4 per cent said they especially liked club
mechanics; that is, any kind of organization work, planning meet­
ings and directing others.
Children who belonged to other kinds of clubs and were never
4-H members more often named the recreational features of their
various clubs as contributing most to their pleasure. It is a signifi­
cant fact, therefore, that among 4-H club members it was the educa­
tional features, the farm work and home-making projects, that made
the strongest appeal. A desire to make their project the best in the
county, if not in the State, and to gain recognition at annual fairs
doubtless was a spur to their zeal, but it was a healthy one and accom­
plished results o f a very tangible nature. One 16-year-old boy in an
isolated community had a pig as a second-year project on which he
won first prize at his own county fair and second prize at a neigh­
boring fair. “ There was nothing like that pig,” his sister declared.
“ He washed it everjr day for two weeks before the fair.” Another
boy, 13 years old, who belonged to the 4-H club in another com­
munity because there was none in his own school, had won a trip to
the State camp at Jackson’s Mill through the excellence o f his
project, a dairy calf.
Other possible results of the educational program o f the 4-H clubs
were suggested by the remark o f a farmer in one community visited
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



that the young folks were marrying and settling down near home.
He said it was largely due to 4-H club work and the pride and
confidence it gave the boys and girls in farming.
Club projects selected.

The most popular project among the boys was raising poultry;
raising hogs ranked a close second and growing potatoes came third.
Manual training had fourth place, because it was the principal proj­
ect for boys in a large consolidated school where there was an enthu­
siastic club. The boys worked on their assigned tasks, principally
woodworking, at noon hour and before and after school, and received
much help from the teacher, who was the local club leader. In one
rural 1-room school a type o f manual training was given by the
teacher to a 4-H boy of 11 who was very backward in school work,
but who had much talent in using tools and paintbrush. He had
built several bird houses and benches for the school yard and also
decorated the blackboards and painted the school furniture.
Although his real 4-H project was chicken raising, the teacher
allowed him to do these tasks as a part of his club work, substituting
them for other activities for which he showed less aptitude.
Sewing, as might be expected, was by far the most popular project
among the girls, being reported by 209 out o f 280 club girls. The
only other project undertaken to any extent by girls was chicken
raising and only 24 reported this.
Below is a list o f all projects undertaken by the 477 boys and girls
who were 4-H club members at some time during the year.
Projects o f 4-H club boys
Total _
Poultry _
Potatoes _

Times named


_ _
Not reported



Projects of 4-H club girls
_ _
Sew ing__
_ _
Home beautification
Potatoes _
Not reported

Times named 11




Su m m er-cam p attendance.

Attendance at a 4-H summer camp was the climax o f club expe­
rience for 23 per cent o f the children who had been club members
during the year o f the study. This included 73 girls and 35 boys.
County camps attracted the majority, although 3 boys and 9 girls
won distinction enough in club work to merit a week at the State
camp at Jackson’s Mill. A ll but 1 of these latter children were 15
years of age and over, but those attending county camps were all ages
from 10 to 17, although only 6 were under 12 years.
Considering the fact that two o f the counties included in the
survey maintained no 4^-H camps, and also the fact that the majority
o f club children were only first-year members, the percentage o f
attendance at summer camps is not so small as it appears at first.
Moreover, many other children whose parents had not yet been con­
verted to the idea that staying overnight at camp was a good and
M The total number o f p rojects is greater than the total number o f boys and o f girls
because 3 boys and 3 girls follow ed 2 projects each.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



wholesome thing to do were permitted to “ picnic ” for a day at
Camp Caesar, Oglebay Park, or Middle Grave Creek, where their
more fortunate club playmates were enjoying the fun and frolic
o f a whole week.
Practically one-third o f those attending summer camp had ability
as leaders, or at least they had been clubs officers at some time, occa­
sionally in two clubs. While this was not always 4-H experience,
it was in the majority o f cases.

Kinds and number.

The national organizations, other than 4-H clubs, to which the
children interviewed had belonged during the year prior to the
survey included 13 troops o f Boy Scouts, 3 o f Girl Scouts, 1 group
o f Camp Fire Girls, 5 o f Girl Reserves, and 4 o f H i-Y for the boys.
One Girl Scout troop and one group o f Girl Reserves were outside
the selected area, but only two girls o f the study belonged to these
particular groups.
The Young Men’s Christian Association and Young Women’s
Christian Association o f Wheeling sponsored H i-Y and Girl Re­
serve clubs in local and other high schools in the panhandle. The
Young Women’s Christian Association had formed an Ohio County
council that assisted young business women as well as students to
organize in the smaller towns. Similar services were rendered by
the Wheeling Boy and Girl Scout executives. The Boy Scout execu­
tive secretary served the whole panhandle as far north as Weirton
and a part o f Ohio as well. A ll o f these organizations worked chiefly
through the schools or churches in the towns.
The Young Men’s Christian Association secretary in Wellsburg
served the boys in the near-by country, especially those in the Franklin
community. His chief contribution was through the direction of
their local sports, since few o f the rural boys came to the building
or were interested in the camp. He refereed basket-ball games for
the near-by consolidated-school team, both on their floor and at the
“ Y ,” and organized a county-wide marble tournament that included
six o f the rural schools.
Several other branches o f these same organizations were found in
the other counties visited, including one group o f Camp Fire Girls
in Webster County. The extent to which rural boys and girls were
affected by their program was slight, because all o f these organiza­
tions were located in towns and villages, none being found in ruralschool districts, not even where there were consolidated schools. This
is one respect in which they differed greatly from the 4-H clubs, the
most successful o f which were connected with rural schools.

The combined membership in these various^ organizations was only
a little more than one-fourth the membership in 4-H clubs among
the children visited. There are two obvious reasons for this small
percentage. First, membership was limited almost entirely to chil­
dren living in towns or villages where such clubs existed and to the
rural children who came to these towns and villages to school.
Second, these other groups were frequently organized through
churches rather than through schools, and the rural children attend­
ing town schools but not town churches did not come in contact with
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



such clubs. Besides these reasons, there were doubtless many others
o f a more subtle nature which only the boys and girls themselves
could account for. The fact remains that national organizations
other than 4-H clubs contributed but little to the recreation o f coun­
try boys and girls, although their programs were unquestionably
enjoyed by those who did belong.
Out o f the 123 members o f these organizations who were attending
town and village schools only 36, or less than one-fourth, lived in the
country. Only eight members were found among children who
actually attended rural schools, all o f these being Boy Scouts who,
with the exception o f one Lone Scout, lived near enough to town to
attend the weekly or biweekly meetings that the scouts usually held.
#The total membership in each of the organizations mentioned was
as follow s:

B5y Scouts
Girl Scouts__
__ __ __
Camp Fire Girls____
__ _ _
Girl Reserves
__ ____
H i-Y ________________________ ____________
T otal______________________________

during year
of study

Members at
date of in­







Boy Scout activities.

As will be seen from the above figures, the Boy Scouts attracted
more children than any other national group except 4-H. Further
analysis showed that 36 o f these 89 scouts were members in one town,
where there were three troops, each connected with a different church.
One o f the principal undertakings o f these three troops was the clean­
ing up o f the town playground, a rough piece o f property in a hol­
low. A t the time o f the survey they were planning under the direc­
tion o f the Woman’s Club to take the responsibility for keeping this
playground in good condition during the summer. It was the pur­
pose of the leader to interest the boys in finding wholesome activities
not furnished by the community. Overnight hikes every few weeks
in summer were the special recreational features of these troops, as
well as o f several others. One energetic young leader Was planning
an employment bureau to assist scouts in finding temporary work to
earn money for a summer camp.
The majority of the remaining scouts, 41 out o f 53, were evenly
distributed among three other troops in three different villages, none
o f these being affiliated with churches. In one o f these a troop had
just been organized three months previously, and a school principal
was the scout master. In the second-village where a small college was
the center for social activities and furnished a large part o f the lead­
ership in civic affairs, a college student was acting as scout master un­
til a local person could be found who was sufficiently interested to take
a part, at least, in troop management. This troop had no outstanding
events during the year. The third troop had been without a leader for
two months since the death o f its scout master.- About a dozen boys
were still interested and were trying to carry on their program by
themselves until another leader could be found. The scouts were thus
confronted with problems o f leadership just as were the 4-H clubs.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



A ll but 1 of the 12 remaining scouts, this one being a farm boy,
who was a Lone Scout, belonged to various troops in other towns, no
one o f which had more than 2 members among the children o f the
survey. A ll of these boys had to make considerable effort to keep up
their membership, as none of them lived in the community where the
troops held their meetings; several were obliged to travel 2 or 3 miles
over country roads, the condition o f which in winter frequently pro­
hibited trips to town even on foot.
The activities named by the Boy Scouts, in the order o f their
popularity, were: First, recreational features, then project work, and
last o f all, club mechanics. The first, which included such answers
as “ outdoor life ” or “ meetings,” was named by 75 boys, 11 o f whom
also named the project work, such as passing badge tests and making
reports. There were just 9 boys who mentioned only the project
work as their best-liked activity. One boy said he enjoyed club
leadership most and 4 o f the above 11 included this feature o f club
work with recreation and project. These boys were patrol leaders
or wished to be.
Other organization activities.

The other national organizations combined reached only 42 o f the
children interviewed, and as far as could be discovered contributed
very little to their recreation. One possible exception was a group
o f Camp Fire Girls recently organized in one o f the small towns
visited, the total membership o f 15 girls being interviewed in con­
nection with the survey. The guardian, who had had three years’
camp-fire experience in another town, was an enthusiastic worker
and was earnestly hoping to provide the girls with wholesome activi­
ties, especially during the summer months when a little tennis, occa­
sional parties, and evening auto riding were about the only amuse­
ments the village afforded. While the regular headquarters program
had been followed during the few months the organization had
existed, special emphasis had been put on outdoor activities, wood
lore, and hiking, and most of the girls expressed keen interest in
this phase o f their camp-fire work.
The Girls Scouts, Girl Reserves, and H i-Y , in the few places where
they were found, followed the program of activities prescribed for
their respective organizations. In one village, however, the Girl
Reserves were not affiliated with the national organization, but they
carried on the major part o f the Girl Reserve program. None of
the rural school children had any contact with these organizations.

Considering the limited social programs o f the rural and small­
town churches and schools there seems to be little doubt o f the value
o f club activities. There are leisure hours to be filled. There are
vocational interests to be served through projects, merit badges, and
similar methods. There is a great need for wholesome social affairs.
The organizations for boys and girls can fill these needs. There is
ample room for the expansion o f all club programs in the territory
that was visited.
When the extension o f the 4-H club is considered, it must be
remembered that it was found only to a limited degree in isolated
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



rural areas. This was due to several causes. First o f all, it hap­
pened that home-demonstration agents, who have much o f the
responsibility for organizing 4-H clubs, were either very new on the
job or not employed in the counties that were visited. There was
difficulty in securing adequate leadership in some o f the sections, and
in others the agents had not attempted to form clubs because o f bad
roads, too much other work, or the belief that cooperation could not
be obtained. Since it was found that interest was keen and that
the children were eager for the work, it seems that a strenuous effort
should be made to take the club program into the isolated com­
Tw o phases o f 4-H club work seem to present the most obvious prob­
lems to one who looks at the work from the recreational rather than
the vocational point o f view. The first is the type o f leadership,
the other the recreation features o f the program.
The advantages and disadvantages o f the teacher as a leader have
been discussed in the preceding pages. The importance o f an adult
with vision can not be overemphasized. Since these workers are
volunteers, their services must be employed whenever they are
offered. Yet the selection and training of these workers is o f utmost
value to the whole program and frequent, well-planned meetings for
them would have made the club work more effective in the sections
that were visited.
Since the 4-H club programs are planned to enrich daily life, their
appeal is in their immediate effect upon the experiences o f a child’s
day. It is largely because o f the obvious value o f improved home
and farm practices that the project work is popular. The aesthetic
side o f daily living does not seem to receive the same attention
although it is just as interesting to the children who have had an
opportunity to become acquainted with it. Music, good books,
nature study, etiquette, and similar subjects are o f real interest to
boys and girls. It is true that leaders need some innate ability as
well as special training to present such work and also that the
county agents are frequently not equipped to train them. The spe­
cialists and those who are drawn in to assist with the summer camps
and special courses should be selected with the idea of supplementing
the abilities o f the employed workers. The camp programs offer an
excellent opportunity for presenting subjects that are not usually a
part o f the regular program. Special classes should be planned for
leaders who are capable o f carrying on any o f the artistic or nonproject lines in order that they may take such subjects into the regu­
lar meetings o f their clubs. Older boys and girls can also suc­
cessfully make such a contribution.
The need for help in planning program events was apparent every­
where. The children who gave recitations, songs, and reports showed
the need o f direction and help in selection o f material. There seemed
to be no idea o f planning the program six months or a year ahead in
any o f the groups that were observed. The State extension service
could assist in solving this difficulty in two ways. Bulletins contain­
ing timely suggestions for making meetings and social affairs inter­
esting should be prepared and sent to the county agents who in turn
may adapt them to meet their local needs, have them mimeographed,
and sent to the club leaders. Training courses for club officers and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



leaders should also be given. These could be directed by county
agents assisted by the State specialists who would give suggestions
not only upon projects and programs but also upon club mechanics.
The training for future leadership among club members is an
important piece o f work. Boys and girls in their enthusiasm for a
club program will develop their own capabilities to the utmost if such
an effort is expected of them. For this reason, the leader should
place responsibility upon them and let them make decisions for them­
selves. It is this sense o f their own place in a program that holds the
members after their first enthusiasm wears away. It was interesting
to find that all o f the 12 students who had undertaken leadership in
various clubs in the selected area had formerly been active members
and officers o f the organizations in which they worked.

Other social groups must be taken into consideration in summing
up the recreational facilities that a community affords its boys and
girls. This is especially true in the country where certain organiza­
tion meetings and social events are affairs that the whole family
attends. The activities o f women’s clubs and other adult groups were
therefore inquired into in each community visited. ^ The character­
istics o f leaders, their training, and sources o f inspiration were also
noted in order to help determine needs in connection with leadership
training among the younger people.

In eight o f the rural communities visited there was some kind of
women’s club or community organization, sometimes both. These
were formed for the most part through the efforts o f the county and
home demonstration agents and were a definite part o f the coopera­
tive agricultural extension service o f the State and county. It was
principally in the consolidated-school districts that these organiza­
tions were the most flourishing. It was not always easy to say
whether a fine community spirit was the cause or the result of con­
solidation, but the two went together. In one rural area having four
1-room schools much urging was evidently necessary to keep the
community organization alive, although a good pike running the
entire length o f these four tiny ridge settlements made them easily
accessible to one another. This was the only community organization
found outside o f a consolidated-school district, unless possible excep­
tion be made in the case o f a 1-room school district in Brooke County
that had held one farm-bureau meeting during the year.
Besides these last-named rural organizations and those in six con­
solidated-school districts, one village women’s club was quite active
in civic affairs. A farmers’ organization, which met twice a year
for dinner or some other affair, contributed in a small’ way to the
social life o f another village.
The scarcity o f farm women’s clubs in the territory visited can
probably be explained by the fact that four o f the five counties had
no woman agent. One county that had recently lost its home-dem­
onstration agent, and the one county that had an agent, were the
only ones in the selected territory having clubs for women under the
agricultural extension service.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




The farm women’s clubs usually met twice a month. One meeting
followed the program recommended by the entertainment section,
and the other was often a demonstration o f some household activity,
such as candy making, canning methods, or the adaptation o f dress
patterns. These meetings also included special recreational features
in which children and young people frequently took active part.
Some o f the women from these clubs went to county and State camps
not only for special training in club activities but also for recreation.
Besides their regular programs the clubs undertook the support o f
such community projects as the purchase o f a curtain for the school
stage, the support o f needy families, the school soup fund, preschool
and baby clinics, and the student loan fund. One club hired a music
director for the school.
The community organizations as well as the women’s clubs were
largely social. The community meetings were usually held monthly
at the school. A program which included an educational talk by the
county agent or some one secured by him and an entertainment num­
ber prepared by the school or by a program committee was followed
by a social hour. In one consolidated school community games and
square dancing frequently filled this hour, and in other centers the
people sat around and talked. The three community meetings visited
by the Children’s Bureau agents were well attended and seemed to
be much enjoyed both at the time and as material for conversa­
tion afterward. Among the children interviewed, 141 spoke o f com­
munity meetings as events o f interest that they had attended during
the year.
In four o f the communities country-life conferences, developed
under the auspices of the State university, were being held. The
purpose o f these conferences is to arouse interest in improving the
social resources of the community. Score sheets for each aspect of
community life have been prepared and are used by each community
in evaluating its activities and resources. These annual self-inspec­
tions seemed to equip the leaders in the communities with aims and
incentives. Interest ran high in the standing o f the schools, churches,
and homes, and apparently some o f the standards set for accom­
plishment were achieved by means o f the stimulation given at the
monthly community meetings.

The men and women interviewed as community leaders, who were
not preachers or teachers, were for the most part members of oldestablished families to whom the community looked for leadership.
Some o f this group had special ability through personality or train­
ing, or both. Thus one young man who had had an especially
successful career as a club member grew into the leadership o f club
and community affairs, not only because his family had standing
but also because he was well fitted by interest and training.
A ll the leaders, past and present, o f the farm women’s clubs were
home makers. A number had attended State or county camps and
used the material thus acquired in planning their community work,
and some had gained experience and confidence through taking an
active part in church organizations.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Parent-teacher organizations were found in 11 school communities.
In five o f them the group used this name; in the other six a civic
club, a ladies’ club, grange, or one o f the community organizations
just described had the care o f the school as an important if not major'
interest. In some schools where no organization existed the teachers
said that it was impossible to interest the parents because of bad
roads, unwillingness to associate with the foreign born, general
indifference to community affairs, or lack o f education along coopera­
tive lines.
The program followed by the parent-teacher groups was similar
to those o f the women’s organizations. A group in one village fur­
nished milk for underweight children and also sponsored an art
exhibit. In another village the parent-teacher organization took
care o f the needs o f the school and offered prizes in the poster con­
test conducted by the school citizenship club. A monthly program
in which school children took part was an entertainment feature of
several o f these parent-teacher clubs. In two o f the rural schools
30 children reported these meetings as the most important social
events attended during the year. In another small rural community
a dinner given by the parent-teacher organization on school-closing
day was the chief event o f the year.

Lodges are important in the recreational program o f a community
through their social programs and through the facilities that their
buildings make available for community use.

The Masons, Odd Fellows, Grange, and other orders were found
throughout the territory visited. They owned buildings equipped
with auditoriums, kitchens, and recreation rooms. Their meetings
were important social affairs in the lives o f many of their members.
This was particularly true o f the Grange, American Legion, and
Masonic orders. Though only 84 children mentioned lodge affairs,
young teachers and community leaders often referred to Grange and
lodge parties. In one town the Grange held two dances a month at
which the people from the near-by rural communities were said to
“ enjoy themselves together.” These were in addition to its semi­
monthly meetings for social programs, held in another small town of
the county, where the suppers, dances, and open meetings were
mentioned as part o f the winter’s program by 21 o f the boys and
girls o f the survey. Men and women belonging to the Masonic
orders in one place found a great part o f their social program grow­
ing out o f their meetings. In one town the American Legion held
dances throughout the winter season, and these were attended regu­
larly by a score or more o f the children interviewed. In the same
town children also attended parties given by the Maccabees.
In two towns lodge members, in discussing the scarcity o f recrea­
tion centers available for the older boys o f their communities,
regretted the fact that thej had no facilities to accommodate a junior
lodge that would benefit by the use o f clubrooms and fellowship with
the men o f the town. An attempt was being made by the Masons in
one village to start a De Molay organization.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




Most o f the orders aided charity and rendered other community
service. In one small town the Odd Fellows as part of their service
program sponsored community (not school) basket-ball teams for
boys and girls.

'The lodge halls were not always available for community use. In
some cases the activities of the organization left no time available
for other meetings. Some o f the halls were unsuitable for parties,
plays, or dinners, but others had been planned with such use in mind.
In communities where schools and churches were inadequately
equipped for large dinners a lodge hall sometimes filled the need and
in the majority of cases no charge was made for charity affairs. In
two places the lower floor o f the lodge hall was used for a schoolroom,
the Grange hall in one village being planned for this purpose. Lodge
halls were available for community use in only 11 o f the 21 places
where they were found, and in 3 o f these communities no other
building was adequately equipped for such a purpose.

The women’s club, the parent-teacher organization, the farm
bureau, or some similar rural club frequently furnished the only
community social life that all members o f the family could enjoy
together. In these groups, as in churches, some consolidation o f
interests is desirable. In localities where joint meetings were held by
several small groups there was fine spirit, and genuine good times
were had. The results were manifestly better than in the small local
group meetings where attendance was small and enthusiasm slight.
Another need o f adult community organizations is assistance in
leadership training and program planning. The same institute that
has been suggested for recreational leaders o f churches, schools, and
clubs could be attended by other community leaders. The extensionservice workers who promote many of the adult organization activi­
ties in rural districts would be the logical promoters of such an
It is not in the province o f this report to make recommendations
concerning the civic and welfare projects o f lodges and secret organ­
izations ; yet it may be suggested that valuable service could be ren­
dered by such societies if those having lodge halls would make them
more generally available for community use when occasion demands.
It is probable that in some rural communities the schools could be
encouraged to plan better social programs and give occasional plays
if they could be assured the use o f a hall instead o f a schoolroom with
stationary desks and chairs.

Although commercial amusements did not exist in the rural sec­
tions visited, the movies, pool rooms, dance halls, and bowling alleys
o f the near-by towns were frequently patronized by the adults and
older boys and girls. The attraction o f near-by amusement places
was said to compete with school and church affairs in certain locali
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



ties, and their popularity was proved quite generally in the answers
to inquiries concerning the use o f Saturday afternoon and evening.
For this reason an attempt was made to discover what kind o f amuse­
ments were offered by the towns, how they were supervised, and to
what extent minors patronized them.
Motion-picture theaters.

In 13 o f the towns and villages visited by children o f the survey
regular motion-picture theaters were in operation, and in 3 other
villages movies were shown in a school building once a week. In 7
o f these places the Western, or “ thriller,” picture was usually shown;
m 5 a better grade of film was used; and in 1 city a variety o f types
was shown. . A description o f the programs o f the remainder, two of
which were in schools, was not obtained. In some of the larger towns
and cities extra features, such as children who sang and danced, or
comedians, were occasionally secured. There seemed to be little or
no supervision o f the theaters.
The answers to the questions, “ Do you attend the m ovies?” and
“ How often ? ” brought to light some interesting facts. It was dis­
covered that 47 children (18 boys and 29 girls) had never seen a mo­
tion picture. A ll but 6 o f these were country children, although none
lived more than 10 miles, and the majority not more than 5 miles,
from a town or village where pictures were shown regularly.
Twenty-six were under 12 years o f age, but 3 were 15 or over.
Twenty-nine children said they had been to the movies once in their
lives, and 705 others only a few times, 545 o f these latter not having
attended for more than a year. Thus 781 children, or two-fifths of
the entire number reporting, saw motion-picture shows very rarely,
if ever. Those who said they went to the movies occasionally, that is,
several times ” or “ off and on ” during the year, but less than once
a month, numbered 286. The remaining 857 (45 per cent) said that
they attended movies quite regularly, at least once a month; 187 o f
these said they went two or three times a month, 388 once a week,
and 82 twice a week or oftener. O f the boys and girls living in towns
and villages, 68 per cent patronized the theaters as often as once a
month, compared with 34 per cent o f those living in the country.
Age also made considerable difference. O f all children 16 years of
age and over, 70 per cent were more or less regular theatergoers.
Among those 14 and 15 years old, the percentage was 55; among the
12 and 13 year olds, 40; and among the 10 and 11 year olds, 29.
Public dance halls.

Public dance halls visited by the children included in the survey
were found in six o f the towns and in one village and two rural com­
munities. Both round and square dances were popular, a hall some­
times being used for round dancing five nights a week and for square
dancing on Saturday evenings. Halls for square dancing only were
seldom open more than two nights a week. The two square dances
that were visited seemed to be jolly, wholesome affairs. The dancers
were acquainted with one another, the manager and his wife acted
as. hosts, and both dances had the atmosphere o f family parties. No
criticism o f either was made by the neighborhood leaders.
two o f the larger towns dance halls had recently been converted
into roller-skating rinks because, the managers said, interest in danc­
ing had fallen off m the spring. The manager o f one o f these halls
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



had employed a city policeman to act as supervisor when he was off
duty. This was the only supervised hall discovered in the territory
Only 177 o f the children interviewed said that they had attended
public dance halls during the previous year. Two-thirds of these
were rural children. 40 o f whom said they went to public dances
once a month or ortener. Age made some difference, because the
number o f children attending public dances increased from 5 per
cent o f the youngest group, those 10 and 11 years o f age, to 12 per
cent o f the oldest children interviewed, those 16 and 17 years o f age.
More young children went to dances in the country, however, than
in the towns. The rural dance halls, which specialized in square
dances, were largely patronized by the whole family. Even infants
in arms were brought, and small toddlers were seen running about
the floors even when the dancing was going on.
Neighborhood house and bam dances were quite often mentioned
as being attended by the rural boys and girls. These were not gotten
up with the idea o f profit, but the men contributed enough to pay
the musicians. Sometimes old schoolhouses were used for parties
and dances by school and social clubs. In one rural locality where
there was much community spirit, the men arranged for dances,
both square and round, under a cement viaduct where the sheltered
bit o f roadway furnished a very good dance floor. Several of the
boys and girls interviewed attended these dances. These neighbor­
hood affairs were not at all like public dances in commercial halls,
yet they satisfied the desires o f the young people for dancing, and
they explain in part the rather small patronage of public halls by
the children o f the study. The attitude o f many churches toward
public dances is another reason why few children attended them.
Pool rooms.

Every town and a half a dozen o f the villages visited had pool
rooms, the majority having more than one. No personal investiga­
tion was made o f the pool rooms, but as many as possible were ob­
served, especially at night, to ascertain, if possible, the use made o f
them by the younger boys. The State law prohibits boys under 18
from playing or loitering in pool rooms, but many boys of highschool age were seen loafing in or about such places in 10 o f the 16
towns and villages where they existed. No small boys were seen
playing pool, although some said they did occasionally. Slot ma­
chines and soft-drink counters were added attractions for the young
boys in some places.
Pool rooms were supervised in two towns by the policemen on
whose beats they were located, but in the other places they seemed
not to be supervised at all. Opinions varied as to the way in which
the business was run. Leaders in some communities said the pool
rooms were badly run, bootlegging and gambling being allowed,
while in other places they were said to be conducted satisfactorily.
Because they paid for both State and local licenses it was considered
difficult to control them. As long as the State requirements were
met the managers were not likely to be annoyed by local authorities.
Among the boys included in the survey 124 said that they visited
pool rooms, but 51 o f these said ¿hat they “ only watched.” A ll were
74601°— 31------6
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



under 18 years o f age, but 15 o f those who played were under 14 and
6 under 12. Seventeen boys under 12 went to watch. It was not
only the boys living in town near the pool rooms that patronized
them, for 33 o f the 73 boys who played pool lived in the country.
Twenty-seven o f the town boys and 17 country boys said they played
pool at least once a week, oftener in many cases. These numbers
are probably conservative, because much hesitancy was shown in
answering the question about playing pool. It was frequently
apparent that a youngster felt he could save his reputation only bv
saying “ No,” since he knew the attitude at home and in the church
was strongly against such amusement.

Very few o f the towns and villages visited had any parks or public
recreation grounds that could be used for picnics and other summer
activities. The 122 children who mentioned a day at the “ park ”
as one o f their principal summer outings were for the most part
residents o f Hancock County, where several small parks in the
northern area seemed to be well patronized by those living near by.
A t the time o f the survey Oglebay Park, about 4 miles from
Wheeling, was only beginning to function as a recreation center
for all the people o f the northern panhandle. The children who said
they went there for 4 -H camp or community events lived in the
immediate rural neighborhoods or were club leaders in Ohio County.
Some others whose older brothers and sisters had spent one or more
days at the camp spoke o f it with enthusiasm and were looking for­
ward to a summer when they, too, could participate in some o f the
park activities.
Little need be said here concerning Oglebay Park and its unique
and far-reaching recreation program. It showed every evidence of
becoming popular, not only as a camp and a training center for club
leaders but as a place where picnics, sports, nature study, and social
and dramatic events were to constitute an almost daily program the
year round. However, it was probable that only a small percentage
o f the boys and girls interviewed would come in direct contact with
the park’s activities, unless some inexpensive means of transportation
were made available.
Many rural children would find much pleasure in a small park or
picnic grove somewhere near their homes. In such a spot family
outings or church and school picnics and athletic meets could be held.
What has been said o f parks may also be said of playgrounds.
Supervised play spaces were rare in the 17 villages and 11 towns
that were visited. It has been explained in the school section that
playgrounds at the schools were usually unattractive and unequipped
but they were the only playgrounds that were used by children in 6
villages. Four villages had no adequate play space, even at the
school, and in four villages and two towns there was no space other
than unsupervised and unequipped vacant lots used for baseball and
other sports. Some space had been set aside for a park or a playground
in three villages and in seven towns and cities. In a few cases the
donor o f the land, a club or an industrial firm, had placed some equip­
ment on it. In two towns where there were equipped playgrounds,
provision had been made at one time for their supervision during the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

This school in
the w oods (le ft) has
no cleared level
space fo r

gam es

A ll that is level
is usually



This 2-room rural
school has
plenty o f space fo r
volley hall and
other gam es hut has
neither equipm ent
nor supervised
p lay
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

A narrow
strip by the railroad
traces serves as
the only
ball ground in one
com m unity

A sm all
town playground
but unsupervised

A sm all
tilla ge school with
a good
playground that
is used the year

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



summer vacation. A t the time of the visit clubs in both places were
discussing the possibility o f again arranging for such supervision
for the coming summer.
Moundsville and Wheeling were the only cities in the selected area
having programs on regular supervised playgrounds. In Wheeling
a superintendent o f recreation was employed the year round; in
Moundsville provision was made for summer supervision only. None
o f the children interviewed, however, even in the communities nearest
Wheeling, said he went to the playgrounds there even in summer,
and only two children mentioned the Moundsville playground as a
recreation center.

Community buildings were found in four centers. Two o f these
were outside the selected territory, but were patronized by children
and adults who were interviewed.
In one o f the northern towns o f the panhandle was a community
building that was widely used. It was equipped with a combination
gymnasium-auditorium, a stage, a shower room, and a kitchen. The
high-school athletic events and larger social affairs were held here;
weekly dances were arranged by the Grange and by a group o f musi­
cians from a neighboring town. Church dinners and sales, also
plays and institutes, were a part of the year’s program. No other
adequate hall was available in the town.
A hall in one rural community was built and owned by the Ladies’
Aid o f the local church. It was equipped with an assembly hall,
electric lights, piano, and basement kitchen. The hall was used not
only for church affairs but for the meetings and dinners o f the law
and order league o f the community, and for the suppers, meetings,
and social affairs o f other churches and organizations which young
people as well as old attended. Like the first-mentioned hall, it was
the only one with adequate equipment in the community.
One o f the residential suburbs o f Wheeling had a hall that was
built by the volunteer fire department primarily to house its engine.
It had a small auditorium without a stage, a pool room with four
tablesin the basement, and a well-equipped kitchen. A community
organization used it for a clubhouse, holding meetings and giving
card parties and an annual turkey dinner. The men and boys spent
their evenings in the basement, and groups from the country near
by sometimes rented the hall for parties, dinners, and dances. It
was to such affairs that some o f the young people came.
The fourth hall was built by a lumber company for the use o f its
employees in a small town in Nicholas County, adjoining a part o f
Webster County that was included in the study. The hall had a
large combination gymnasium-auditorium with a stage and dressing
rooms. It was used for basket-ball games and dramatics. A play
prepared and presented there was largely attended by the boys and
girls in the rural schools near by, who also went to the games and
other affairs given in this community..

In numerous small settlements the cross-roads store or a highway
gas station is the only center, and these were used in the evenings as
the gathering places o f the young men o f the neighborhood.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



In the small towns offering several centers a certain group patron­
ized the drug store, another the post office, and still another the
cigar store. Thus in one village the high-school set were to be found
after school and in the evenings at the drug store; the older boys
and those who were not popular with girls frequented the pool
room; and the small boys and the rougher youths hung around the
railroad station. The men sat in comfort in the hotel lobby. A va­
cant lot on the main street o f one village was used by small boys
for playing marbles, and they were found there even after dark.
The older boys and men in this village lined the main streets every
evening; some congregated on the bank steps, others by the hardware
store, where a radio with a loud speaker was nightly in operation.
In the larger towns and the cities the pool rooms as well as the
street corners and certain stores seemed to be common loafing places.
In one city each or the pool rooms attracted its own following, one
drawing the school and young clerk group, while the other was used
by the mill workers and foreign men. A very popular pool room in
one town where there was much unemployment attracted the boys
and young men during the day as well as in the evening, and it
proved also a hang-out for the high-school boys at the noon lunch
hour as well as after school and at night.

Commercial amusements, parks, and playgrounds made little con­
tribution to the recreation of rural children in the selected areas.
It was principally those living in or near towns who used such
The movies, however, were important enough in the lives o f cer­
tain children to make them worth considering as one type o f amuse­
ment that should be made available in better form to rural children.
Those who did go to the movies had only poor pictures to see in many
o f the small towns. A better grade of films would be helpful in these
places. An especial plea is made for the Saturday program, since
that is the one most generally patronized by children. The three
localities where movies were shown in the schoolhouse had an ex­
cellent opportunity to present good entertainment to their com­
munities. While it is not suggested that the schools go into the
motion-picture business, it seems evident that a responsible agency
should undertake the presentation o f some kind o f interesting
dramatic events in communities where such programs are needed.
Movies are a popular form o f entertainment that adolescents are
bound to seek. The occasional showing o f good films in the home
community would help to satisfy their desires for this form of
entertainment and lessen the likelihood o f attendance at poor small­
town shows.
Such activities as neighborhood basket-ball games, dances, and
barn parties may serve to interest boys and girls in their own com­
munities. It hardly needs to be said that a wholesome restraint is
imposed by familiar faces and places upon the sort o f youthful mis­
chief that leads to serious harm. While the movies, dances, and
games in a rural community may not be so well directed as those in
the near-by city, yet the fact that young people are required to meet
the behavior standards of their own families and friends in the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



home community makes the local affair a better form o f recreation
than the majority o f amusements that they would find away from
To what extent the commercial amusements in the area visited
needed supervision can not be definitely stated. There was not
enough time to study thoroughly the attendance and management of
the dance halls and pool rooms. Although minors were excluded
by law from the pool rooms, they were known to patronize them and
to loaf around them, even if they did not play. The opinions of
community leaders varied as to the harm such attendance might do.
It was claimed that the divided responsibility for these places, which
paid both a State and a local tax, made their supervision difficult.
Regular inspection by county officials would remove the reputation
for bootlegging and gambling that had been acquired by some o f
them. A more adequate program o f sports and community affairs
would lessen the attraction of the commercial amusements and
furnish a more wholesome type o f recreation to country youth.
Playgrounds were used by very few rural children. While a
well-planned, supervised playground near the rural school is o f im­
portance during the school year, its use by farm children during
vacations is limited to those living near by, since children can not
be expected to walk more than half a mile to find a place to play.
A community park is a recreational asset in a rural neighborhood.
One including a playground, a picnic grove, and a baseball diamond
probably would attract family, church, and club groups from a dis­
tance o f 20 miles or more. There were many lovely spots in the
sections visited that could be made into attractive picnic grounds
and would be preferable to the church grounds commonly used. The
planning and preparation o f a community park is an excellent means
o f stirring up interest in outdoor affairs for families and organiza­
tions. It may be thought that such a park is not needed for people
who can picnic in their own wood lots. The answer is that going
away to some definite place adds an air o f festivity to a basket-lunch
party that would seem commonplace near home.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

When the children were asked to name the activity they would
choose if they could do exactly as they pleased, some quickly men­
tioned several and others had difficulty in thinking o f any specific
thing. Vocational interests were keen. They found expression not
only through the choice of such leisure-time pursuits as raising
chickens, sewing, or carpentry but also in the plans for the future
that the opportunity to do as they pleased seemed to suggest to some
Farm work headed the list o f interests mentioned by the boys.
This included specific activities such as raising chickens, tending
stock, or working in the garden or field, as well as the general term
“ work on the farm.” There were 185 boys who mentioned one or
more kinds o f farm work as a special interest. While it may be true
that some boys chose the activity that they knew they would be re­
quired to follow in case they had some free time, and others named
the only out-of-school pursuit they could think of whether they
enjoyed it or not, yet the interest expressed by the children in the
raising o f stock and crops indicated that many o f them found real
pleasure in agricultural pursuits.
Although fewer girls than boys selected farming, 67 named one or
more farm activities as favorite leisure-time pursuits. Sewing was
named by 188 girls and cooking by 78.
It may be thought that these activities stand high because o f the
interest created in them through the 4-H club projects. This is not
the case. O f the 185 boys who named one or more kinds tif farm
work as a special interest, 125 had never been members o f a 4-H club.
O f the 188 girls choosing sewing, 117 had had no club experience,
while 47 o f the 67 girls enjoying farming and 54 o f the 78 who liked
cooking had never been club members. The fact that the children
enjoyed the work found in their homes indicated instead that the
club projects follow a natural interest and that the extension of the
club program to reach the children who were not members would find
a ready response.
Reading ranked highest in the interests of the girls, being named
by 26 per cent o f the 1,002 girls. It would seem that rural girls
do not differ from city girls in this respect; in a questionnaire study
o f leisure-time activities- o f 1,600 girls in upper elementary and high
school grades in Brooklyn, N. Y., reading15 headed the list o f activi­
ties that they said they would most enjoy if they could make a
choice. Reading^ stood sixth with the boys. Eighteen per cent of
all the children interviewed selected it as a favorite activity. The
effect o f reading was shown to some extent in the choice o f vocational
interests expressed by some o f the children, who mentioned desires
15And W hat o f Leisure? b y H enrietta A dditon.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Journal o f Social Hygiene. June, 1930,



concerning professions with which they could have had little
acquaintance except through books.
Baseball was the second choice o f the boys, while other games and
free-play activities followed it in the third and fourth places. For
the girls games and free play stood third and fourth. The need of
leadership and facilities, in order that a broader program o f play
activities may be offered to rural children, is discussed elsewhere.
One popular means o f self-expression for adolescents is found in
the fine arts, but unless they are well presented they do not have a
general appeal. Music was named as a pastime greatly enjoyed by
78 girls, thus standing sixth on their list; but it was named by only
6 boys. A rt was named by only 5 boys and 16 girls, writing by
3 boys and 12 girls, and dramatics by no boys and only 7 girls. The
reason so few children mentioned such activities is that the clubs
and schools in the rural areas visited were not giving children the
best possible introduction to the fine arts.
Nature study is another closed door that the school and club may
open. It was specifically mentioned by only a very few boys and
girls as a direct answer to the question as to what they would like
best to do, but a real interest was indicated in the conversations
concerning pursuits enjoyed in the fields and woods and also by the
number who enjoyed camping, hiking, and similar activities. The
boy who was fascinated with ferns, the girl who liked to “ explore
along the creek,” the numerous youngsters who spent the early spring
days “ hunting sugar trees ” and “ roaming the woods for flowers,
are but a few o f the many boys and girls who would thoroughly
enjoy a broader introduction to the wonders o f the country in which
they live.
Following is a complete list of special interests of the boys and
girls o f the study and the number of times each was named. This
should form a fairly accurate index to the desires and aspirations
o f young folk in the rural areas visited.

1« Includes 60 ball not otherwise specified.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Times named

00 CO CD


00 00 00

Work, other than farm (in mill,
pottery, on roads, etc.)________
Horseback riding________________
Nature and nature study________
Driving horses___________________
School and study________________
Driving automobile______________
Visiting friends or relatives______
Skating__________________ _______
Movies and shows_______________
Club work_______________________
Chemistry and scientific experi­
Automobile riding_______________
Home chores____________________
Music__________________________ A rt______________________________
Radio construction______________

en CH Ü» 05

Times named

Farm work (care of stock, garden­
ing, and general farm work)____185
Baseball18_______________________ 172
Games (all except ball)__________ 139
Free-play activities (in woods,
fields, with toys and animals) __ 95
Hunting and trapping___________
Swimming_______________________ 78
Carpentry and construction______ 75
Sports and athletics (not other­
wise specified)_______________
Mechanics (automobile, electric,
Travel and trips_________________ 41
Basket ball______________________ 35
Football_________________________ 35
Hiking_________________ ________



Fair or circus____________________
Cutting w ood____________________
Listening to radio_______________
Going to town__________________ J
Sleeping________________ v_______
Just loafing______________________




Times named

Church or Sunday school________
Attending lectures_______________
“ Clerking” ______________________
Visiting a factory________________
No ideas____ ____________________


Times named

Reading---------------------------------------- 263
Sewing----------------------------------------- 188
Games (all except ball)___________ 172
Free-play activities (in woods,
fields, with toys and animals) __ 161
H ousework_________________ . ____
Farm work_______________________
Ball, basket and other____________
Travel and trips__________________
Sports and athletics (not other­
wise specified)__________________
Picnics__________________ ________
School and study________________ 39
Camping. . . . --------------------------------- 36
Visiting relatives or friends________ 32
Nature and nature study__________ 24
Club work____________ |_________
Care of children__________________
A rt------------------- ------ 1_____ __I_I 16
Automobile riding________________
Writing___________________________ 12
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Times named

Raising flowers._________________
Horseback riding________________
Coasting_____ ___________________
Going to town___________________
Dramatics and elocution_________
Work, other than house or fa r m ..
Church or Sunday school. _______
Entertaining company___________
Driving automobile______________
Lectures or plays________________
Recreation leadership____________
Typing---------------------------------i g _
Making candy____________
Social work_____________
Taking pictures__________________
No ideas_________________________



The rural children in the section o f West Virginia that was studied
had an average o f 2.6 hours daily in which to do as they pleased.
These hours o f leisure offer the opportunity for a broader type of
education, one that will create such a genuine interest and delight in
books, music, dramatics, nature study, sports, and creative activities
that no child or adult, when asked what he does in his spare time,
will blankly say, a Just sit around,” or “ Nothing.” The home,
church, school, and club can all contribute to the education o f young
people in a constructive use o f spare time. A t the end of each chap­
ter on recreational agencies in this report, recommendations are
made for the immediate improvement o f the spare-time programs in
rural districts.
The home is the place where the child first learns to play. Parents,
therefore, need to be educated to the idea that it is their responsi­
bility to make home a place where wholesome play is possible. Com­
panions should be welcome there, and there should be equipment for
games, handicrafts, music, and reading. Parents not only should
encourage children to use these facilities but should frequently join
them in their home play. There should be summer outings and other
trips taken together whenever possible. The home life is enriched
by the sharing o f experiences in the outside world.
The church filled an important place in the lives o f most o f the
rural people, but in many localities it was handicapped by the weak­
ness o f its organization. It would appear that the members and
community would be better served in some places if the numerous
small congregations were to combine. A community church large
enough to support its minister properly and insure a regular schedule
o f religious and social meetings would be more o f a social force
among rural people than several small ones in the same area could
ever hope to be. Such a church would bring together more people
o f the same age groups, and there would be a greater opportunity for
young people to organize and carry on worth while activities. In the
few places where this had been tried, satisfaction was expressed.
While some consolidation o f rural churches is a thing to be desired
and looked forward to, there are present needs to be met in the small
churches as they exist to-day and even in many o f the larger ones
that serve rural folks. Some general education is needed as to the
importance and value o f the social life that the church can promote,
particularly in localities where there are few or no other agencies
to bring people together. Social programs were in need of improve­
ment, as was admitted frequently by the leaders themselves. The
literature on the planning o f programs, socials, and special-day
events which is published by some o f the denominational houses and
other societies, would be helpful to leaders o f young people in the
churches if they could be made acquainted with it. A regular bul83
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



letin service giving seasonal suggestions for parties and programs
would be still better.
An annual institute o f church and other leaders interested in
recreational activities in their communities would also be worth
while not only because o f the instruction that could be given by
actual demonstration o f programs and plays but because of its stimu­
lating effect. It would give an opportunity for people interested in
the same problems to meet and exchange ideas. A competent recrea­
tion leader assisted by an efficient committee should be in charge of
such an institute.
Because leisure-time activities are a part o f the educational pro­
gram, it seems beyond question that training for them should be a
part o f the school’s curriculum. Hence the school as the third
agency and one o f the most important ones in the recreational life
o f rural children has been discussed at some length.
The immediate needs o f the school are, first, more adequate phys­
ical equipment and, second, better training for teachers.
Although it may not be possible to add assembly-room gymnasiums
to all rural schools not having them, the need of some sort o f adequate
room for school and community use should be kept in mind when new
buildings are planned. The playrooms that were visited needed
better ventilation and some treatment o f the floor to keep down dust.
Many school yards needed to be leveled and drained, being useless
for play as they were.
The libraries in many schools were very meager. A better and
larger collection o f books was needed. The fact that the books are
used by adults as well as children should be taken into consideration
in the selections made.
More important even than equipment is a staff of teachers who are
well trained. Rural teachers need special training for work in two
lines that may fall outside the ordinary school curriculum.
The first need is for a background in the arts that will make it
possible for them to introduce their students to good music, drama,
and art. Many rural children have few opportunities for the enjoy­
ment o f music, drama, and art outside the school and should there­
fore be offered a chance in school to discover their interests and
talents. Bycause the presentation o f such subjects requires a great
deal o f assistance unless the teacher has some natural talent, special­
ists who could visit the schools and give instruction on stated days
should be employed by the county or other units o f administration.
Normal schools and colleges should make their courses in the arts
very practical.
. The second kind o f special training needed by rural teachers is
m recreation. The rural community looks to the teacher for much
guidance and help in leisure-time activities. The planning o f socials
and parties as well as the direction o f recess play at school often falls
to the school-teacher. Some teachers said they would lead games i f
they knew what games to use. Others said they had in their classes
older children who could serve as leaders if simple, effective game
material were put in their hands. Here, as in the churches, an annual
institute for recreation leaders and a good bulletin service would be
o f great assistance. Both should be a means of enriching the work
given by the teachers to their students.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



It was suggested that specialists are needed in order that the
schools may be able to introduce the rural child to the fine arts. Spe­
cialists employed by the county or other unit could inspire the pro­
grams o f the teachers and could also render valuable assistance to the
communities in which they worked if their territory was not too large
to serve well. F or instance, the supervisors o f music not only could
assist the teachers in selecting and presenting their daily music pro­
grams but might also develop community choral and orchestral
organizations. The supervisor o f physical education and social pro­
grams, besides helping the teachers, could foster whole community
programs and when requested could advise with the local groups
that have social interests as a part of their programs.
These suggestions are made for improvements in the programs of
schools as they were observed during the study. When it is con­
sidered that spare time is likely to increase in amount as better farm
and home practices come into use in this part o f West Virginia, it is
evident that extensive changes should be made in the work o f the
schools, since they reach parents as well as children.
Club work, as a fourth type o f recreational activity, was found to
be very important in the lives o f some o f the children, but the pro­
gram o f the 4-H club, which is well suited to rural children, should
be extended to the more remote neighborhoods. Boys and girls liked
farm activities. They were proud o f the products they raised. More
than half o f all club members interviewed said their chief interest in
4-H club work was their project. Farming was named more often
than any other activity by the boys, whether club members or not,
when they were asked what they liked to do best in spare time. With
the girls, sewing, one of the principal club projects, was the activity
mentioned as the favorite by the second largest number. Therefore,
an extension o f the 4-H club program to more remote areas would
help to satisfy the wholesome desires o f many rural youngsters.
Since the club leader is largely responsible for the success or
failure o f a club, the selection and training of these leaders are o f
first importance. Some o f the club meetings visited were not well
planned. The social programs were especially poor, being a medley
o f recitations and songs that the children had obviously heard again
and again. The group singing was badly led and evidently
unplanned. The institute and bulletin service that has been men­
tioned before would be o f great assistance to club leaders and to
the junior officers also.
Other agencies through which social contacts are promoted among
rural people are the women’s clubs and community organizations.
Better cooperation among the smaller groups would result not only
in better programs at social meetings but also in a greater material
service to a larger group o f people. Leaders o f these organizations
would be benefited by attending the institutes recommended for
church and school leaders.
The Grange, lodge, and other societies having halls could further
the general cause o f recreation in rural communities by making these
halls available for public use when needed.
Not only do country people need places for indoor recreation but
they also need places in which to play out o f doors, such as parks,
public playgrounds, and athletic fields. The countryside abounds in
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



woods and fields—“ plenty o f space to play,” some will say—yet
there may be no picnic grove or play field within a distance that in­
vites the family, school, or church group to enjoy a day’s outing
there. The development o f natural resources for public enjoyment
is one o f the responsibilities that rests on civic authorities, town, city,
or county.
I f the country youth are given more facilities for play and bettertrained leaders to guide them in school, club, and outdoor pursuits,
their recreational life will be greatly enriched and questionable city
amusements will lose some o f their attractiveness.
In every section visited in West Virginia in connection with the
present survey many adults and young people were interested in
the extension o f the social activities o f the churches, schools, and
clubs, but few individuals knew how to acquire new material or
introduce new and better programs into their organizations or com­
munities. Some individuals were encountered who were unaware o f
the importance of a program o f wholesome activities for leisure time,
but the responsiveness o f most persons to any helpful suggestion was
assurance enough that any real assistance along these lines would be
appreciated. I f some provision could be made for the training o f
leaders in the rural areas visited, it is certain that the program o f
recreational activities o f all agencies would be extended to an
interested and enthusiastic people.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis