Childhood

The storm broke over their small town and changed their lives forever

Beside [our] little front porch … lay two dead Union soldiers. Read more >>

Fifty years ago these rough-and-ready tin soldiers were sold from bins cheap and by the handful. Today collectors are seeking them for their bright, simple vitality.

Commercially made metal toy soldiers date back to the late eighteenth century, when German tinsmiths began casting two-dimensional or “flat” figures of the sort immortalized by Hans Christian Andersen in “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.” European firms went on to Read more >>

A memoir of Boy Scouting in the youthful days of the movement

The Boy Scouts of America, I am surprised to discover, is seventy-five this year, a wintry age for something so perpetually associated with the springtime of life. Read more >>

For many children who accompanied their parents west across the continent in the 1840s and '50s, the journey was a supreme adventure

The historian Francis Parkman, strolling around Independence, Missouri, in 1846, remarked upon the “multitude of healthy children’s faces … peeping out from under the covers of the wagons.” Two decades later a traveler there wrote of husbands packing up “sunb Read more >>

When many of our greatest authors were children, they were first published in the pages of St. Nicholas

At first, it might seem F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eudora Welty, and E. B. White have little in common besides their country of birth and their line of work. Read more >>

A British schoolboy sees the quiet English countryside come alive with excitement toward the end of 1943 when …

A Childhood in the Florida Wilderness

In 1899 when I was five years old and living in Palmetto, Florida, my father decided to take his family through the wilds of the Everglades and stake a claim on an offshore island. Read more >>

Memories of Fresno

If it is true that any man’s past cannot be restored—“Turn back the universe and give me yesterday,” Ernest R. Ball sang at the turn of the century— it is even more true that nobody’s past can be obliterated, effaced, or wiped out, short of the grave. Read more >>

Battered with play, they nonetheless retain all their old Christmas-morning power to charm and entrance

Children’s toys are appealing for much the same reason that children’s drawings are appealing: they are strong, simple distillations of the adult world. Bright, crisp, and spirited, the best of them appeal to the child in every grownup. Read more >>
The Plains Acrossi The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60 by John D. Unruh, Jr. University of Illinois Press Illustrations, tables, maps 565 pages, $20.00 Read more >>

A young girl’s memories of life in a community haunted by

The mothers of my childhood friends paid special attention to me, and I never understood why. Read more >>

“Your body is a temple,” our ancestors told their pubescent youngsters. ‘Now go take a cold bath”

Standards of propriety were lofty indeed Read more >>

It moved more boys and girls than the Children’s Crusade of the Middle Ages—and to far happier conclusions

Among the thousands of homeless children deposited at the Children’s Aid Society in 1875 by orphan asylums, courts, and other institutions was a four-year-old named Willie, sent by the New York Prison Association. Read more >>

DRAWN FOR AMERICAN HERITAGE BY LITNESS

The new teacher, Miss Flock, was hired just one week before country school opened. Read more >>

A FAMOUS HISTORIAN RECALLS THE COUNTRY WHERE HE GREW UP

We lived in Indian summer and mistook it for spring. Winter lay ahead just when we thought June was on the way. The school, the town, and the people connected with both were coming to an end that seemed to be a beginning. Read more >>
Salem, Massachusetts, is rooted deep in the stony New England heritage of America. The capacious and functional houses that ringed the common remain, superbly maintained reminders of their prosperous Yankee history. Read more >>

THIRD OF FOUR INSTALLMENTS A FAMOUS HISTORIAN RECALLS THE COUNTRY WHERE HE GREW UP

This is how it was in the old days. A family that wanted to go from here to there went by railroad train because there was no other way to do it. Read more >>

SECOND OF FOUR INSTALLMENTS

A FAMOUS HISTORIAN RECALLS THE COUNTRY WHERE HE GREW UP

According to the Bible, a city that is set upon a hill cannot be hid. Read more >>

A FAMOUS HISTORIAN RECALLS THE COUNTRY WHERE HE GREW UP

First there was the ice; two miles high, hundreds of miles wide, and many centuries deep. It came down from the darkness at the top of the world, and it hung down over the eaves, and our Michigan country lay along the line of the overhang. Read more >>
“What a sacred office is that of the parent!” exclaimed an anonymous contributor to The Parent’s Magazine in December, 1840. Read more >>

A Brush with the Law & OTHER OFF-SEASON ADVENTURES, or

It was 1924 and the Klan was riding high. The author’s father, a congressman, wouldn’t join, and this Is how It felt to be an outcast in one’s own home town that summer.

When I think of the nineteen twenties, I think of the heat of summers in southern Indiana where I spent my vacations from Harvard. They were mostly happy summers, but there was one that was not—the summer of 1924, which came at the end of my freshman year. Read more >>

It was a day when all the rules were off, and danger was part of the fun.

Animals a-coming two by two: Up went the lid and you could stuff them in, Noah and all. Or you could throw them at Brother. A toy is pretty adaptable.