Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Ed. (Master of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership and Educational Policy Studies


Ryan Playground (River Forest; Ill.); Education; Preschool--Illinois--River Forest


This thesis is a history of two women, who, in the late 1930s, opened a private nursery school called "Ryan Playground" for neighborhood children in River Forest, Illinois, an affluent suburb just west of Chicago. The two women worked diligently to create an environment of free play and acceptance for the children they served. The program was well received in the community. Although the school was not advertised, there was a waiting list for entry due to its overwhelming popularity. Also included in this thesis is a study of the schools in the community, the identification of schools in the area, and their role in serving the neighborhood. Ryan Playground was influenced greatly by the Ryan women's Irish-Catholic backgrounds. Demographics, family biography, and review of social and intellectual life are included in this study. The roots of the Ryan sisters date back to the 1840s in County Cork, Ireland, when the great potato famine occurred. Somewhere around that time, the Joseph Ryan family emigrated to the United States, as many Irish did, choosing the Chicago area as their new home. An interesting point of this thesis relates to other nursery school programs that have existed in history. The importance of tracing these programs includes the present day question of structured versus non-structured early childhood programs. By examining the past, new insight is gained for the future and direction of early childhood programs.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [58]-61)


76 pages




Northern Illinois University

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