Chicago Park District Records:Toy Collection
This collection includes 78 wooden toys created for the Chicago Park District’s Toy Centers. Figurines of people, farm and circus animals; doll house furniture; and a Sternhalma (also known as Chinese Checkers) game board appear. Of note are figurines of people in traditional dress from Russia and Africa that illustrate stereotypes held at the time.
- Creation: circa 1937-circa 1940
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.
Biographical / Historical
Beginning around 1937, the Chicago Park District established Toy Centers in its fieldhouses as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) program to help alleviate the burdens of the Great Depression. The program provided playthings for families that could not afford toys of their own. Conceived as libraries where children could check out toys to play with at home and return them, these facilities also quickly became “toy play centers.” Children spent hours in fieldhouses playing with the toys with other kids. Park District employees and adult craft class participants made the toys, and when toys broke, staff took them to the Park District’s “toy hospital” for repair. The nationally influential program lasted at least until 1940, when mention of it stops appearing in the Chicago Park District annual reports.
5 Linear Feet (in 5 boxes, plus 1 oversize artifact)
Language of Materials
Beginning around 1937, the Chicago Park District established Toy Centers in its fieldhouses as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) program to provide playthings for families that could not afford toys of their own during the Great Depression. This collection includes 78 wooden toys created for the Chicago Park District’s Toy Centers.
Items are arranged alphabetically by type.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Transferred by the Chicago Park District in 2014.
- Guide to the Chicago Park District Records: Toy Collection
- Johanna Russ
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English
Part of the Special Collections Unit at Harold Washington Library Center Repository
Harold Washington Library Center, 9th Floor
Chicago Public Library
400 S. State Street
Chicago IL 60605 United States