Historical Games

game piece
open book

This bibliography page lists the books of games cited in the rest of the website. If you're curious, they have more details about the games described here as well as other interesting games.

Each historical period also has its own bibliography section with some additional information about life in each period. I also give more information about the books in each of the period bibliography sections, describing the type of information they offer. Many of them were written for kids, but I recommend those books for adults, too. For one thing, kids' books are good for getting an introduction to a topic, and for another, they include more pictures. Pictures are not only good for getting a better understanding of what the book is talking about, but they're great for planning costumes for a party.

This page also includes a list of books and websites about games that I haven't used as sources in this page but still have interesting information about games in general.

Hope you've enjoyed the games and the site!


Beaver, Patrick. Victorian Parlor Games. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers, 1974.

Bell, R.C. Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1979.

Bell, R.C. The Boardgame Book. New York: Exeter Books, 1983.

Beaver, Patrick. Victorian Parlor Games. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers, 1974.

Bolton, Lesley. The Everything Games Book. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2005.

Botermans, Jack. The Book of Games. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2007.

Burns, Brian, ed. The Encyclopedia of Games. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1998.

Carson, Jane. Colonial Virginians at Play. Williamsburg, VA: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1989.

Cassell, Ltd. Cassell's Book of Sports and Pastimes. London: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co., 1882.

Cosman, Madeleine Pelner. Medieval Holidays and Festivals. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1981.

Daniels, Bruce C. Puritans at Play: Leisure and Recreation in Colonial New England. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1995.

The Diagram Group. The Way to Play. New York: Paddington Press Ltd., 1975.

Diehl, Daniel and Mark Donnelly. Medieval Celebrations. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2001.

Finley, M.I. The Ancient Greeks. New York: Penguin Books, 1964.

Gourley, Catherine. Welcome to Felicity's World, 1774: Growing Up in Colonial America. Middleton, WI: Pleasant Company Publications, 1999.

Greenaway, Kate. Kate Greenaway's Book of Games. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.

Grunfeld, Frederic V., ed. Games of the World. New York: Ballantine Books, 1975.

Hofer, Margaret K. The Games We Played: The Golden Age of Board and Table Games. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003.

Hollister, C. Warren and Judith M. Bennett. Medieval Europe: A Short History. 9th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Instructions for Playing Chess. Included with Family Classics Chess/Backgammon/Checkers board game set. New Brunswick, NJ: Pressman Toy Corporation, 1986.

The Key to Hoyle's Games. Ottenheimer Publishers, Inc., 1968.

King, David C. Colonial Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998.

Lizon, Karen Helene. Colonial American Holidays and Entertainment. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.

McCutcheon, Marc. Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1993.

McGeough, Kevin M. The Romans: New Perspectives. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2004.

Mellor, Ronald and Marni McGee. The Ancient Roman World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Mertz, Barbara. Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008.

Mitchell, Sally. Daily Life in Victorian England. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996.

Mohr, Merilyn Simonds. The New Games Treasury. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

Morehead, Albert H. and Geoffrey Mott-Smith, eds. Hoyle's Rules of Games. New York: New American Library, Inc., 1963.

Nardo, Don. Arts, Leisure, and Sport in Ancient Egypt. Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale, 2005.

Parlett, David. The Oxford History of Board Games. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Payne, Elizabeth. The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. New York: Random House, 1992.

Provenzo, Asterie Baker and Eugene F. Provenzo, Jr. Play It Again. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1981.

Schlereth, Thomas J. Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Warner, John F. Colonial American Home Life. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.

Other Game Books

The Editors of Klutz Press. The Klutz Book of Card Games for Sharks and Others. Palo Alto, CA: Klutz Press, 1990.

This book came with a set of playing cards and contains the rules for many different card games, including Old Maid, Hearts, Poker, and various solitaire games.

Kalman, Bobbie. Games From Long Ago. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 1995.

This book came describes a number of indoor and outdoor games that were popular in North America during the 1800s.

Love, Brian. Great Board Games. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc.: 1979

This book contains the rules, game boards, and pieces for games that were commercially-made between 1895 and 1955. Many of the games were ones that were shown or discussed in Hofer's The Games We Played. Now, you can play them yourself! Victorian era games in this collection include: Game of the Man in the Moon, Chivalry, Transvaal (a Fox and Geese variant), Game of Baseball, The Game of Playing Department Store, Office Boy, and Round the World with Nellie Bly.

Sackson, Sid and the Editors of Klutz Press. The Book of Classic Board Games. Palo Alto, CA: Klutz Press, 1991.

This book came with two sets of playing pieces (black and white glass pieces) and a pair of dice so that readers could play on the game boards provided in the book. Among the games included are Checkers, Asalto (under the name Dalmation Pirates and the Volga Bulgars), Solitaire (the board game version), Halma (under the name Hoppers) and Backgammon.

Helpful Links

These are other sites and online articles about games from different historical periods and areas of the world.

The Ancient World

Ancient Games

This is a site dedicated to board games of the Ancient World. It has pictures and rules and links to related sites, including one about Ancient Recipes, in which they re-create ancient recipes from the Middle East. The games site also contains a list of helpful books about historical games.

Board and Pieces

A comprehensive site with rules for many ancient and classic games.

The Complete History of Board Games

A general history of board games from ancient to modern times. The article follows a progression very similar to The Full History of Board Games and contains much of the same information. I believe that this article used The Full History of Board Games as a source because that article was written earlier, but it also contains some additional information from other sources. Topics included in this article that the other article did not discuss are Dominoes, Snakes and Ladders, Checkers (Draughts), Pachisi, Go, Shogi, Mahjong, Agon, Clue, and role-playing games.

This article is part of a larger site about different types of board games: Board Games Land. Recommended by a site reader. Thank you, Catherine!

The Full History of Board Games

This is an article about the history of board games from the earliest known games to modern times. The Complete History of Board Games contains much of the same information, and I believe it used this article as a source because this article is older. Topics included in this article that the other article did not discuss are Liubo, which was an ancient game from China, and Mancala.

Games of the Ancient World

This is a video of a lecture on the topic of ancient board games from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In particular, it talks about how board games spread from one society to another around the world and describes some ancient Egyptian games in some detail. The lecture takes a little over 2 hours, but roughly the first 9 minutes of the video is full of introductions about the speaker and can safely be skipped unless you're doing a scholarly study on the subject. In fact, I would say that the lecture is really mainly for scholars and can seem dry to people looking for a more general overview.

The History of Board Games: What Was the First/Oldest Board Game?

A comprehensive article about the history of board games, organized by time period. It contains descriptions and trivia about different games and an interesting section about the origins of the word "game." From GameCows. Thank you, Mik!

The Shape of Ancient Dice Suggests Shifting Beliefs in Fate and Chance

An interesting article about the shape of modern dice vs. the shape of dice used by the Ancient Romans. The shapes of ancient dice were imperfect, and so the dice were less fair, but depending on how ancient people viewed it, it may not have mattered.

Traditional Game Rules

Rules for a variety of old games from different time periods. Some of them appear on my site, but there are some that I haven't covered as well. This site sells replicas of historical board games: Masters Traditional Games: Historical Board Games.

The Americas

Playing Pig in Appalachia

This is an article about a card game called Pig and the tournament that is held in a small town in Tennessee. The rules of the game are not provided in the article, although from the description, it sounds like Appalachian Pig is in the Whist family of games. There is another card game called Pig which is unrelated and plays differently. Here is an audio version of the article. For another card game particular to Appalachia, see Hillbilly Rummy.

Board Game Studies

Cool Old Games

A collection of rules for variations of many card games, board games, and tile games. Thanks, Paul!

A Guide to Checkers Families and Rules

A comparison of different varieties of Checkers (Draughts) games from around the world by Sultan Ratrout of the University of Jordan.

Progress in Play: Board Games and the Meaning of History

This is an article about historical board games from around the world from The Public Domain Review. The sources are cited in footnotes.

Play Games Online


Play Solitaire and other games online for free! You can customize your experience with different card designs and play a variety of multiplayer games against computer opponents. Games include card games like Hearts and Cribbage, Backgammon, Chess, Checkers, Yahtzee, Mahjong, Word Hurdle or Clue Hurdle (which are similar to Wordle), and various word games.

Play Solitaire

Play Klondike Solitaire for free with choice of 1 or 3 card draw.

The Royal Game of Ur

Play the world's oldest board game online for free! Includes instructions for playing.

Ludus Latrunculorum (Latrones)

Play an Ancient Roman game online for free against a computer opponent! Includes instructions for playing and a little history of the game.

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