Winners of a rolling pin throwing contest at a Bristol Brass Company picnic, 1950

An exhibit now in the Dodd Center Gallery — “Workers at Play: Baseball Teams, Basketball Competitions and Company Picnics” — shows photographs from the Connecticut Business History Collections of workers around the state participating on all types of company-sponsored sports teams and enjoying company picnics, parties and outings.  You’ll see photographs of operators from the Southern New England Telephone Company at a beach outing in 1913, workers of the Thermos Company in Norwich enjoying a movie at Christmastime in 1954, and the men’s bowling team of the Hartford Electric Light Company in the 1950s, among many dozens of other fascinating historical images.  Companies represented include the New Haven Railroad, Cheney Brothers Silk Company of Manchester, New Britain Machine Company of New Britain, and Wauregan-Quinebaug Textile Company, all companies for which we hold historical records.

Sports teams and recreational activities were encouraged in companies around the United States in the early to mid-1900s because the companies believed it engendered worker loyalty, reduced worker discontent, and improved productivity.  Employees participated to reduce the monotony of work on the factory floor, to bond with coworkers, and to develop athletic skills for fun and fitness.  It was a win-win situation for all involved!

We’re having a reception for the exhibit on Sunday, July 29, from 2:00 to 4:00p.m. The exhibit will be up in the gallery until October 19, available when the building is open 8:30a.m. to 4:30p.m., Mondays through Fridays.  For more information about the exhibit please contact me at laura.smith@lib.uconn.edu or 860-486-2516.  After October this exhibit will be a traveling exhibit and we will be happy to loan it out to facilities around the state, so let me know if you’re interested in hosting it.

UConn Today, the campus magazine, featured the exhibit in their July 6 issue!  See the article here: http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2012/07/photo-exhibit-documents-history-of-%E2%80%98workers-at-play%E2%80%99/.

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

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