Neva Boyd

Neva Boyd

Neva Leona Boyd (*Sanborn, Iowa February 25 1876, † Chicago, November 21 1963) founded the Recreational Training School at the Hull House in Chicago. The school taught a one-year educational program in group games, gymnastics, dancing, dramatic arts, play theory, and social problems. She was on the faculty of Northwestern University as a sociologist from 1927 to 1941.

Born in 1876 in Iowa, Boyd moved to Chicago after high school. She enrolled in the Chicago Kindergarten Institute (now National Louis University) and eventually arrived at Hull House, a settlement house for European immigrants. She taught kindergarten in Buffalo, New York, before returning in 1908 to attend the University of Chicago.

The Chicago Park Commission hired Boyd as a social worker, specifically to organize social clubs, direct dramatics, supervise social dances and play activities. At Hull House, Neva Boyd ran movement and recreational groups for children. She used games and improvisation to teach language skills, problem-solving, self-confidence and social skills. During the Great Depression, Boyd worked with the Recreational Project in the Works Progress Administration, (WPA). In 1927, Boyd accepted Northwestern University’s invitation to move The Chicago Training School for Playground Workers from Hull House to its own Department of Sociology. Boyd became a sociology and theatre professor at the University of Chicago and is one of the founders of the Recreational Therapy and Educational Drama movements in the U.S.

Boyd also worked in military convalescent homes. The Red Cross, which established these convalescent houses, ensured that all wounded veterans engaged in playful games to prepare them for leaving the hospital. By the 1940s, Boyd’s methods found their ways into every military hospital in the country.

Viola Spolin and Colonel William C. Menninger were two of her students.

Read more about Neva Boyd:  Books Published

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