Bingo game gifted by the American Red Cross

Maker and role
Milton Bradley Co.: Manufacturer
Production date
Audio tour

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Bingo game with a white label on the box which reads 'Gift of American People Thru The American Red Cross', 1939 - 1945.

This unique object from the British Red Cross's archives is a bingo game set, dating back to the Second World War. Manufactured by the now defunct Milton Bradley Company, an American board game manufacturer established in 1860, the bingo set was used for the entertainment of civilians during the dire days of war - for instance, within rooms and shelters built for protection against air raids or poisonous gas attacks. The set includes 79 rectangular bingo cards, a drawstring bag with 87 circular wooden covering markers, and a manual sheet detailing the rules of the game. The set seems to have been in ownership of St Margaret's, as suggested by a white label attached to the bag. St Margaret's was a charity in London founded by Miss Anson in 1889, which had been involved in community outreach projects, and even housed a gas-proof room from 1938 as a precaution to the pending war threat. Another white label included on the storage box of the bingo game reads, "Gift of American People Through American Cross."

It was gifted to St Margaret's Club during World War Two, by the charitable organization, American Red Cross, which was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, on the function of serving people in need. Evidently, this bingo game set is similar to other objects within the British Red Cross's archives. For example, the cardboard gaming board from the same era as the bingo box includes the same white label stating that it is a gift from the American Red Cross, therefore suggesting that the American Red Cross regularly distributed disaster relief packages consisting of these games during wartime.

The content and purpose of this object fascinated me, as a gaming enthusiast. Being a simple board game from the 1900s, which the children of that time were immersed in, the bingo game can certainly be compared to the modern day, with the likes of much more intricate toys, board games and even video games, which are all immersive tools of entertainment to their own degrees. Looking at this object, I could imagine terrified families and children in shelters, during time of war, distracted by these comforting board games, gifted by the generous American Red Cross - a simple box containing a simple game, touched by the hands of many who needed healing.

Audio recording by Mahdi Ali (volunteer), Manchester.
Collection Type
Game sets like this were supplied by The American Red Cross in order to entertain civilians during wartime emergencies.
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Associated Person and Role
American Red Cross

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