This bibliography came from ideas presented in three settings in the past twelve years.

In 1990, a series of letters and discussions took place, led by Karla Henderson, regarding the creation of a book about "Invisible Pioneers in Recreation and Leisure," looking at the "contributions of women to the provision and promotion of leisure services in a number of related areas." Those related areas included the early playground and recreation movement, the national park movement, therapeutic recreation, camping, outdoor education, youth agencies, military recreation, employee services, the conservation movement, physical recreation, etc. While that idea gained support from several potential authors, it was felt that "an edited book might not be appropriate until more knowledge existed in our literature."

In 1993, at a retreat to discuss issues about women and leisure, there was considerable support for both the "need to get more humanities into our research" and a conference "that would be a place for presenting working papers."

In 1995, at the International Congress on Women and Leisure held at the University of Georgia, a workshop was held to discuss the state of research and writing about the "Women - The Invisible Pioneers in Recreation and Leisure." The purpose of the workshop was to help establish an understanding of the state of our knowledge of these pioneers as well as to discuss possible future directions for research in this area. As part of the workshop a preliminary bibliography of the known research to date was prepared and distributed to those participating in this workshop. That edition of the bibliography was prepared with the input of many contributors including several subscribers to the WLeis-L, WISHPERD, LeisureNet, SPRENet, CALS, SportHist and SportSoc electronic mail groups. After the workshop, the bibliography was revised and enlarged through the contributions of the workshop participants.

Over the summer and fall of 1995, copies of most of the documents noted in the bibliography were acquired through the services of Acadia University's Library, the Inter Library Loan unit and the Recreation Resource Centre of Nova Scotia. Bibliographies such as this one are continually growing. One of the benefits of using the World Wide Web to distribute the bibliography is that it can be periodically updated. Thus, the bibliography will grow as new items or amended ones can be brought to my attention. This version of the bibliography was completed on June 13, 2002.

This bibliography focuses on the contribution of women to the promotion and provision of leisure services. Decisions were made along the way to limit the bibliography to women in leisure services. While the term was very loosely defined, the bibliography did not focus on sport, physical education or health. Each of these latter areas is important in its own right and has its own champions. The purpose of this bibliography is to focus the spotlight on the women pioneers in leisure services.

Several students have worked on this project. Jodi Nicholson and Tonya Beveridge worked on this project after they finished their Bachelor of Recreation Management degrees at Acadia University. Ginger Derochie, a graduate student in Recreation Management worked on updating the 1997 version of the bibliography. Nathan Allen improved the appearance and usefulness of the bibliography on the web as part of his summer work with the Acadia Institute for Teaching and Technology.

Acadia University library staff, most recently Tanja Harrison, have helped with database searches.

Funding has been provided for this project through the Acadia University SSHRC Grants. Both SSHRC Small University Grants and Institutional Grants have supported the student research assistants and purchased various versions of the EndNote bibliographic database computer software.

I must accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in this bibliography - if you find any please email me at


I noted earlier that the definition of leisure services was a rather loose one. This looseness enabled me to incorporate references about women whose contributions to leisure services may be outside the important, but often noted, role as social reformers or settlement house workers or playground leaders. One such example was provided by Elery Hamilton-Smith when he brought to my attention that "women were of immense importance in tourism because of their role as guest house proprietors and hoteliers" (email, 9 April 1995). According to his research, while the histories of tourist resorts often describe the role that men played in shaping the industry, the accommodation directories for the areas all name women as the proprietors of the guest houses and hotels. Elery passed along the references for the article by Jones (1994) who investigated Guesthouses of the Gippsland Lakes in Australia, and for the book by Walton about The Blackpool Landlady. The work of landladies is also explored by Davidoff (1979) as she investigated Landladies and Lodgers in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century England, mentioning Blackpool as the location of various seaside resort boarding houses (p. 81).

Another lead from Elery Hamilton-Smith included the references to the work of Edith Onians "who was the executive director of what became known as the Melbourne Newsboys Society. This was an organization devoted to the wellbeing of what we would call `street kids' or `homeless youth'. Its name came from the extent to which many of such `kids' became newspaper sellers. The society set a pattern for youth work, including the leisure services component. Onians was a full-time volunteer from 1897 until her death in 1955"(email, 9 April 1995). Onians' work is described both in her 1914 book The Men of Tomorrow and by Maunders (1984) in his History of Voluntary Youth Organizations in Australia.

One of the unstated objectives when the work on this bibliography began was to include material about women pioneers from outside North America. The use of the electronic mail groups certainly aided in that task. Thus, in addition to the references from Australia and England noted above, there are two from New Zealand: Coney's 1986 work about the YWCA in Auckland, and Lynch's 1987 investigation of Victorian women mountaineers as they engaged in Scaling the Heights.

A treasure in the bibliography is the detailed study by Audrey Wakefield about the ten women who were The Female Founders of the Playground Association of America that Joanne Allen brought to my attention. This masterís thesis study was done at SUNY Cortland and photos of the women hang in the offices there.

One of the limitations of this bibliography is that it is restricted to printed material - articles, theses, dissertations, etc. Several of the respondents noted that there is a need to interview some of the twentieth century pioneers who are at various stages of their careers in order to collect their stories. I would encourage each of you who use this bibliography to interview such women and record their stories for future researchers.

Research Bibliography