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Games That Children Played in the 1920s

Commercially manufactured glass marbles were available in the 1920s.
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During the years between World War I and the stock market crash of 1929, people attempted to create lives of normalcy, taking their focus off the world at large and instead placing it on their individual lives. Women achieved the right to vote, skirts grew shorter and organized crime tightened its grip on society. Children, however, enjoyed games that had endured the test of time.


Handmade marbles can be dated back to Germany, as early as the 1500s. Technological advances in the 1920s led to commercially produced glass marbles. A game of marbles could be played on any large, flat surface, and it commonly was played in the schoolyard. Vintage marbles from the 1920s are sought by collectors today.


The exact origin of the game of jacks is unknown. Children playing jacks have been represented in ancient Greek artwork dating back as early as 323 B.C. Before the metal jacks of modern time, it was common to use animal knuckles, stones or seeds. Poor children in the 1920s used small stones or seeds instead of jacks, however, metal jacks were available by this time. The rules of the game have changed little over time.


Playing house is an activity that spans several generations. In the 1920s, as gender roles shifted, young boys and girls had new examples to model. Women displayed liberation from the role of homemaker and entered the work force. Playing house allowed children to experiment with different careers, such as operator and doctor. These foundational examples shaped society’s future as young boys and girls mimicked the behavior of their parents.


Summer afternoons were spent playing baseball.
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The 1920s marked the beginning of the Golden Age of Baseball, an era marked by elite hitters, such as Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams. Babe Ruth was at the height of his career and was the object of every young baseball player's admiration. Baseball commonly was played as a pick-up game in vacant lots and farmer's fields. Stickball, a variant of baseball that uses different equipment and uses the city environment to comprise parts of the playing field, was played primarily in the northeastern U.S.


The game of horseshoes is believed to have its origins in the Greek discus throw. However, it was in the 1920s that many of today’s more common rules were accepted, including a height requirement for the stake and standardized scoring.

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