Report on the Organization and Administration of the Recreation Commission


In the fall of 1917, at the request of Mayor Marx, the Detroit Bureau of Governmental Research undertook a survey of the organization and administration of the Recreation commission, including its program for Detroit. The quality of the work done by play leaders was not touched upon.

In order that a true comprehension of the work done might be obtained, the time of the survey was extended to allow for observation of a complete years’ work, winter and summer activities of 1917-18.

In making this survey of the extent and operation of the recreational facilities of Detroit it has been assumed that the city has recognized and endeavored to meet two distinct needs:

First, the need of adequate means for utilizing the “leisure time” of the adult and juvenile population.
Second, the needs of social as well as of educational means to help assimilate Detroit’s unusual cosmopolitan population.

From these starting points an effort has been made to determine whether the program of the Recreation Commission has been adequate to meet these needs and whether the program has been supported by sufficient public funds.

The general conclusions reached regarding these two questions are:

First, that the Recreation Commission has a broad conception of its function and possibilities, but that is an endeavor to realize its vision it has prematurely spread its energies and resources over a wide field of activities, carrying on a broad skeleton program, which will be adequate when it becomes substantial.

Second, that while the City of Detroit is not spending nearly so much as it should for a full “leisure time” program it has been well, considering that the Recreation Commission has been established only three full years and considering the definiteness of the program presented to the appropriating bodies.

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