Documenting Play: From the Front Line

This article was published in Play and Folklore no. 66, December 2016, by Museum Victoria.

In 2007 and 2008 I had the privilege of working for the Childhood, Tradition and Change project
as a fieldworker. The project was funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Project Scheme and received additional support from the National Library of Australia, Museum Victoria, Deakin University, Curtin University and the University of Melbourne. The research was conducted over four years (2007-10), and material was recorded in nineteen schools across Australia by eight fieldworkers working in pairs.

The aim of the project was to gain a ‘snapshot’ of play occurring in Australian playgrounds and to build on an extant body of work compiled by researchers in the 1950s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. (1)

Entering the field

Armed with pencils, notebooks, cameras, folders, microphones, a packed lunch and studio-quality recording gear (from the National Library of Australia), my colleagues and I set out to document what primary school kids were up to during their free play time: at recess, lunch, and as they headed home each day. Continue reading