The purpose of this study was to explore the ways in which childhood was perceived in the circuit Chautauqua movement. The methodology followed a threefold approach: first, to trace the development of the Chautauqua movement, thereby identifying the values and motivations which determined programming; next, to identify the major tropes of thought through which childhood has been traditionally understood; and finally, to do a performance analysis of the pageant America, Yesterday and Today to locate perceptions of childhood and to gain a better understanding of the purpose of this pageant. My principal argument is that the child's body was utilized as the pivotal tool for the ideological work that the pageant was designed to do. This ideological effort was aimed at both the participants and the audience, with the child's body serving as the site of education as well as signification. Through the physical embodiment and repetition of different roles, the children who participated performed certain values and cultural assumptions. This embodiment of values was expected to be retained and performed long after the performance was over - it was a form of training through pleasure.