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American National Biography Online Bradley, Milton (8 Nov. 1836-30 May 1911), manufacturer of games and educational materials, was born in Vienna, Maine, the son of Lewis Bradley, a craftsman, and Fannie Lyford. After finishing high school in 1854 in Lowell, Massachusetts, Bradley found work in the office of a mechanical draftsman and patent agent. There he earned enough money to enroll himself in the Lawrence Scientific School at Cambridge, where he studied drafting. Half a year short of completing the two-year course, Bradley moved to Hartford, Connecticut, with his parents. Unsuccessful in securing employment there, he left home in 1856 for Springfield, Massachusetts, where he immediately found work with the Wason Car-Manufacturing Company as a draftsman. After the doors of Wason Company closed in 1858 owing to economic recession, Bradley went into business by himself as a mechanical draftsman and patent agent. However, he made no money until he rejoined the reopened Wason Company to draw up the plans for a luxurious railroad car ordered by the ruler of Egypt. Later he learned the art and craft of lithography, bought a press, and started another business in 1860. Shortly afterward Samuel Bowles, publisher of the Springfield Republican, persuaded him to make and sell lithographs of a photograph of a beardless Abraham Lincoln. Although the prints initially sold well, they became worthless after the future U.S. president grew a beard. In that same year, inspired by his own love of playing games, Bradley created "The Checkered Game of Life" and began his career in manufacturing games. Bradley successfully sold the first batch of this game personally to store managers in New York City. The philosophy behind his creation of this game was that life was oftentimes like a game and a game like life, both involving chance as well as skill. Bradley did not advocate gambling, although some people of this time did not approve of any type of game. His first success was followed by "Games for the Soldiers" in 1861, a kit of nine popular games for Union troops. In 1864 Milton Bradley Company became successful enough to include J. F. Tapley and Clark W. Bryan as partners. Two years later Bradley invented "The Myrioptican," which was a box that was cranked to unroll lithographed historical scenes across a screen. Another popular item was "The Zoetrope, or Wheel of Life," which was an improvement of the former. It consisted of a revolving drum with vertical slits on the side and a paper strip of figures in various stages of action inserted inside. When spun, it appeared that a figure was in perpetual motion. The year 1866 also saw the patenting of Bradley's rules for the popular game of croquet, which soon became standard. Because Americans were beginning to have more leisure time in the late 1800s, Bradley's games were greeted with enthusiasm. The end of the Civil War and economic recession gave the nation additional reasons to indulge in such diversions. In 1869 Milton Bradley became involved in the kindergarten movement after meeting Edward Wiebe and hearing a lecture by Elizabeth Peabody. As a result, he published a book by Wiebe titled Paradise of Childhood (1869) on the ideas of a German named Friedrich Froebel. It was the first work about kindergarten instruction published in the English language. Because Bradley's own parents instilled in him the pleasure of learning and taught him simple arithmetic with objects that better enforced a lesson than did mere memorization, he could sympathize with such a cause. Although the book did not sell well, Bradley began to manufacture kindergarten materials such as the "gifts" named by Froebel, which were objects that taught children the ideas of fractions and division. In addition, Bradley published two magazines for the purpose of promoting his educational materials. One was called Kindergarten News (purchased in 1893), which became Kindergarten Review, and the other was Work and Play (published earlier). Because Bradley's educational venture was unprofitable, J. F. Tapley and Bryan parted with him in 1878 and his longtime friend and clever businessman George Tapley joined the company. Bradley's interest in children's education led him to develop a new color wheel for color instruction, which had brighter and purer colors than previous models. His experiments with different hues and pigments mixed together in an ice cream freezer led him to write and publish four works himself about teaching colors to children: Color in the School Room (1890), Color in the Kindergarten (1893), Elementary Color (1895), and Water Colors in the Schoolroom (1900). Bradley's first marriage was to Vilona Eaton of Boston in 1860; they had no children. Two years after she died, he married Ellen "Nellie" Thayer in 1869, a schoolteacher from Winchester, New Hampshire. They had two daughters. A somewhat shy man who did not care for the business aspect of his work, Bradley was more comfortable at his drafting board or experimenting with new ideas for games. He believed in using his artistic talents for practical purposes such as mechanical drafting rather than for producing art for its own sake. It was later, when he started painting with water colors, that he enjoyed art for its aesthetic qualities. Bradley was a persistent character. His perseverance was especially clear in his decision to continue manufacturing the unprofitable educational materials. "It took about all the faith I could muster, all the belief in the final triumph of kindergarten principles, to pull me through those early years of discouragement, when my business associates and other friends and the annual balance sheets of our bookkeeper were all against me" (quoted in Shea and Mercer). Because he helped spread the concept of kindergarten and persisted in producing educational materials, the aids were eventually bought and used. His advocacy and support helped to make kindergarten more of a reality. Most of all, he is known for the company that he founded and remembered for the games that he created to bring enjoyment into the parlors of American homes in the late 1800s. He died in Springfield. Bibliography For a history of Milton Bradley Company, see James J. Shea, Jr., The Milton Bradley Story (1973). A full-length biography is James J. Shea and Charles Mercer, It's All in the Game (1960). See also Milton Bradley, a Successful Man: A Brief Sketch of His Career and the Growth of the Institution Which He Founded, Published by Milton Bradley Company in Commemoration of Their Fiftieth Anniversary (1910), and Jas. E. Tower, ed., Springfield Present and Prospective (1905). Deborah S. Ing Citation: Deborah S. Ing. "Bradley, Milton"; http://www.anb.org/articles/10/10-00177.html; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Copyright (c) 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Copyright Notice Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the American National Biography of the Day and Sample Biographies provided that the following statement is preserved on all copies: From American National Biography, published by Oxford University Press, Inc., copyright 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Further information is available at http://www.anb.org. American National Biography articles may not be published commercially (in print or electronic form), edited, reproduced or otherwise altered without the written permission of Oxford University Press which acts as an agent in these matters for the copyright holder, the American Council of Learned Societies. Contact: Permissions Department, Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016; fax: 212-726-6444.