Neva Boyd


International, folk games, gymnastics

Neva Boyd


Neva Leona Boyd was born in Sanborn, Iowa on February 25, 1876. She was a proponent of the modern play movement, which emphasized the importance of recreation in socializing individuals. Neva 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.

Neva moved to Chicago after high school and 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 Neva as a social worker, specifically to organize social clubs, direct dramatics, and supervise social dances and play activities. At Hull House, Neva 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, Neva worked with the Recreational Project in the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In 1927, Neva accepted Northwestern University's invitation to move The Chicago Training School for Playground Workers from Hull House to its own Department of Sociology. Neva 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 United States.

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

Neva Boyd died in Chicago on November 21, 1963.

Neva's articles and publications include