Fifty years ago, children in school playgrounds around Australia were chanting, running, skipping, catching, flicking marbles and throwing jacks. Dorothy Howard, an American scholar on a study trip to Australia as a Fulbright fellow, and a self-confessed 'playground sleuth', was there to record their activities. The result of her observations was a series of articles published mainly in academic journals in the United States and Britain. In 1996 her articles were republished in Child's Play: Dorothy Howard and the Folklore of Australian Children (eds K. Darian-Smith & J, Factor, Museum Victoria, Melbourne).

Dr Howard's publications include Dorothy's World: Childhood in Sabine Bottom, 1902-1910, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 1977; Pedro of Tonalá, 1989; and Folklore for Children and Young People: a Critical and Descriptive Bibliography for Use in the Elementary and Intermediate School (with Eloise Ramsey), American Folklore Society Bibliographical Series, vol. 3, 1952.

Dr Howard's research collection from her Australian trip was eventually donated to Australian children's folklore researcher Dr June Factor, who donated it to Museum Victoria in 2000 with the Australian Children's Folklore Collection. Dr Factor indicates that Dr Howard gave her the Australian research material over the course of several years. Dr Factor stayed with Dr Howard in 1979, and likely brought back material then. She stayed with Dr Howard several more times over the years, often returning with material. A librarian in the University of Melbourne’s Education Faculty located further cardboard boxes of Dr Howard’s research.

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