Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“Women at the Gymnasium: OAC Women's Athletics and Physical Education, 1880s-1940,” Ted Cox

November 7, 2018

Video: “Women at the Gymnasium: OAC Women's Athletics and Physical Education, 1880s-1940” 

- Abstract | Biography


Larry Landis: Well, I'd like to welcome you all to this evening's collections of the center presentation. My name is Larry Landis. I'm the director of the Special Collections and Archives Research Center. This is a regular series hosted by library Special Collections and Archives Research Center. What we do with this is invite the campus and local communities to engage with the materials, such as these on the table, from our collection, to explore those materials through expert lectures, participant discussion, and close observation. So, do take advantage of that. We had a little bit of time before the presentation. There'll be time after the presentation to continue looking at those materials. This evening we're very fortunate to have entrepreneur, historian, and former OSU Women's Volleyball Coach, Ted Cox, here to present. Some of you may have been present for Ted's presentation in May 2017 at Old World Deli on the history of brewing in Corvallis, or you may have read one of Ted's books. Tonight's presentation, however, takes a completely different path. It is the result of years of research by Ted which started during his graduate school days studying physical education here at OSU in the early 1970s.

About a year ago, Ted showed me an early draft of what he will be presenting this evening. As one who has been immersed in OSU's history for most of my 28 years here at Oregon State, naturally this was of interest to me. It became apparent that Ted was delving into an area that had received little attention or scholarship and had been underappreciated, and that area being early development of women's physical education, inter-collegial athletics and intramurals at OSU. The rich history of those threads can be seen today in OSU's well-developed intramural program, which is the third largest of its kind in the nation. The university's emphasis on physical fitness and well-being at the facilities available to women and men, at the Dixon Recreation Center. I should point out that one of the signature areas of OSU's mission statement is improving human health and wellness, and also the thread to today's OSU women's intercollegiate athletics program. You will see that there's a direct line from the physical culture classes of the 1890s to our #8-ranked women's basketball program today. Without further to wait, I give you Ted Cox.


Ted Cox: Thank you, Larry. Ladies, thank you for taking the time to come down, and I appreciate it. Today's topic does, as Larry had mentioned, honor the women who were involved in physical education and sport 120 years ago here at Oregon State and tonight will be for a little over an hour me talking about the following topics. We'll pretty quickly delve into the women's intercollegiate sport from 1898 through 1925. That was the first installment of serious sporting activities and then took a lull for about 40 years. The early years of the women's physical education program at Oregon State, how it evolved. I'll be profiling some of the key women that led that program and also of course the facilities they worked in will be talked about, because they intermingle in this talk. A couple of definitions, just to make the flow of understand so we don't have a conflict of understanding is physical training and physical culture and physical education is I use those terms tonight: physical culture was basically the terminology used for physical training, physical education here at the university before 1980 and back in the 1890s and 1880s nation-wide. The term physical education after 1980. If I mix those terms up, just thinking these are basically the same. The other one is the term co-ed. College women here at Oregon State are referred to as co-eds, because Oregon State was always a co-ed institution.


But basically the term co-ed does not refer to men but to female students only, so whenever you hear that, some people get confused and some people are just no problem with it.

At any rate, about 46 years ago in 1972, the Department of Physical Education for men and women came together and consolidated into a single department and Dr. Lambert was the head of the department and that was in June '72. At that time I was living overseas working in the Peace Corps in Belize, and I wrote to the program here and contacted Dr. Lambert about graduate studies and that eventually led to me coming here and being a part of the physical education program. When I came in August '73, right before school started we had a faculty meeting up at Peavy Arboretum, a social gathering, dinner, breaking the bread, and at that time I met Pat Ingram who had just been appointed as the head of the newly formed Women's Intercollegiate Athletic Association here and she sized me up that evening and before the end of the night she asked me if I was interested in coaching women's volleyball and I wound up accepting that and spent a lot of time in that term-my office was over in Langton Hall, the men's building, but I ended up spending a lot of time in the Women's Building for the next two years. Here's some of the volleyball team members [gesturing towards the screen]. Marilynn Wilson who lives over on the coast today. Janice Baker was the graduate from Newport High School, and Cathy Morris, from the Willamette Valley here. We, I had a really great time working with these women and the others that made quite a successful team. They carried the program more than I did. I think they helped me with my coaching. It was good.

Anyway, the program today is dedicated to Betty Lynd Thompson, and she was what some people refer to as the first lady of modern dance. Besides modern dance, Betty taught creative dance, slow dance, square dance, tap dance, social dance, basic rhythms, clogging. At one time or the other all of the dance programs here at Oregon State had to offer. Her career spanned 45 years from 1927 to 1972, longer than any other woman in physical education department. The whole time she spent working at the Women's Building, which officially was dedicated in February 1927. I met Betty in the spring of 1974. She had already been retired for two years and was cleaning out one of the nooks near the front of the Women's Building on the inside and we immediately struck a friendship that lasted the rest of her life. Later that year, Don Martin who was from the Men's Building and in charge of men's and women's activity classes gave me a class to teach, it was called posture relaxation. I think I was pretty sure I was the first man, probably the only man ever to teach that class, which had been started by Marion Thayer back in 1913, 1912 or 1913, and had a long history as part of classical physical education where the posture and person's basic-analysis at the start of the program was assessed and then the part of the gymnastics and if women or men had any problems they would have to go to correctives. That was a big part of early physical education.

Anyway, this class that I was asked to teach was a continuation of that tradition for the previous 60 years and I was taught for a few years after that, too. Turns out, that in 1927 when Betty came to Oregon State she had worked with the other women in the department to overhaul that and make it into a real special focused course.


When I found out that she had those ties and I thought well I need some help. I wasn't really sure the proper way to approach that class. Of course, there were other women in the department that had taught it but I immediately glommed onto Betty and asked if she could help with that and if she would be interested in even teaching one of the classes, which she agreed to. It just so happens out of all the classes at Oregon State that could happen that year there was some visiting professors at Cairo. It was a man and a woman and they asked if they could sit in on a class. I said, yeah that's fine. But it happened to be the day Betty came. She shows up, here she's probably I don't know 72 or 73 years old and in a unitard pink outfit and leads mostly freshman girls through a whole routine. They were flush in the face and she was after the 20, 30 minutes of activities and she was springing through the air showing a safe way to fall on the ground. Anyway, I felt very happy that she was there and the Egyptians were really impressed. So I felt like I had dodged a bullet as far as trying to impress the foreign visitors from physical education.

One of her wishes that to dance on her 85th birthday and when Betty was 83, friends, including me, said while wait until she's 85? Let's do it now. We held a party for her down at the Old World Deli. So this was on her 83rd birthday [gestures to photo on screen]. This gentleman here, George Soto, was a dance instructor at Lynn Benton [Community College] and our timing couldn't have been better because unfortunately about six weeks later she passed away at her home on Oak Shade Drive just four miles outside of town towards Philomath. I'm going to jump ahead right now and just orient the founding or the establishing of this campus. It moved from downtown to here in 1888. The first building, you may know, was Benton Hall, or soon to be the community hall which is located right over here. That was the first building. In 1888 there was a transfer of some of the classes, not all of the curriculum, that was destined starting up when Oregon Agricultural College was in place. It was a move-in year and the next year they kicked off in full gear. The following year the campus, with state funding, built three structures and where you go from up to the third floor in Benton Hall and look this way-let's go back [gestures to slides on the screen]. You can see if you were in the back of the building somewhere up here and taking a photograph this is what students would have seen in 1890. This was the original campus. Of course they're in the administration building. And these buildings here, this one was Alpha Hall, was a student dormitory and it later, about 1900, 1899, became Alpha Hall was called student hall and women's hall and different various names. That was located right over here. Which building was?

LL: Gilkey Hall.

TC: Yeah, this building right here. We're kind of in this heart of the original campus. And this mechanical hall building was just located right over here by Kidder [Hall] and the computer science building. Anyway, this is probably the whole student body or pretty close to it [referring to photo on screen], for the first year when it was the only dorm. Most people lived in town and would rent places or the college would rent out a hotel and have that as student housing. This one here only held about 40 students and for the first year they didn't share as a co-ed, which is a very unique situation. These are all women on the first floor and the guys in their cadet uniforms on the second floor. About ten years later in 1890, there were two fields built for the women's amusement or use. One was the tennis court and the other was a croquet court. Here is the tennis court by Alpha Hall and of course you can see the fence was on either side and then on the sides.


These gals sitting here in front they have croquet mallets in their hands and they were ready to go out and play that afternoon. A curiosity, really nothing new for the agricultural college, but a year later in 1900 in the second Olympiad in Paris, France, two of the Olympic events were croquet. Intense. These ladies were doing Olympic competitions compliments of the college. Not really. So, anyway, a year later a men's dormitory was built, which is today called, referred to as Fairbanks Hall, but at that time it was Hawthorne. Not to confuse things, but this is right next to the Women's Building over here on the next quad and what this attic area up here is just one empty area and so the men that were residing there asked for permission to fill it up with gymnastics equipment. So the first gym, unofficial gym, student-mandated kind of a push through to okay was up in that upper attic area they had filled with equipment. There was horizontal bars, trapeze, a set of swings, spring boards, mats, fight ropes, boxing gloves, Indian clubs or dumbbells, all of that. That was for men only. Women didn't take part up there. From what I see at the early date there that was kind of rowdy for a while until the college got a real handle on it, a rowdy area. I can see why women wouldn't even probably want to go up to that gym.

The following year in the mechanical arts building it was doubled in size, originally it was just the water tower and pretty much this building. This was added on in 1893 and a large gymnasium was built in there. This was 1893, and that was 60x32. They had showers. They kept the athletic equipment there. The first real gymnasium was in the mechanical arts building which was located right over here [gestures to photo on screen]. Physical culture was not mandated by the university at that point but students were obviously in sports. Football at Oregon started in 1893. This facility was used by the students with the blessing of the college and even had classes. The women and men's picture show a women's class and these were non-credit classes and this cadet here was teaching a non-paid cadet-you didn't get any money for that, but they had that going on. This picture is from about 1896. This building unfortunately burned down in 1898 in September. However, as we're going to find out in a minute here, women's basketball was organized that year, the first basketball team, and they would have been practicing before and also playing in this building before the gymnasium burned down. There's nothing in the records that I've been able to find that just going back dates when it was opened. They would have definitely been in this building and using that facility for the first basketball team, inter-school basketball team.

Before we go on and at the same time this picture was taken right after the fire there was already the first real gymnasium as far as, I shouldn't say real, dedicated gymnasium which is today the Gladys-

LL: Gladys Valley.

TC: Pardon?

LL: Gladys Valley.

TC: Gladys Valley gymnastics facility right over just a few yards from us and that was built in 1899, or 1898 and completed later that year after this fire. It was partly motivated because of the need of a proper armory for the college and also proper facility for men and women in preparation for required physical education classes. Anyway, that's going to take us right up to when physical education, physical culture, began officially as a requirement.


But before we do that I want to digress a little bit and back up and talk about the women's sport program that went from 1898 to about 1925 and focus on that and we'll look at the different athletic teams that were there during those years. Then we'll come back because when we get to this part here when that gymnasium was first occupied that is when I have a series of really incredible women that led the physical education department and it was tied into the student sport program.

I'm going up to, let's see, look up the picture 61. Anyway, in the beginning here at Oregon State, Oregon Agricultural College, the athletic competition may have had approval from school administration but the teams, whether baseball, football, or basketball, basketball being exclusively women in those days. There was no men's basketball, really, at the beginning, were student-inspired and student organized. In 1892, a student athletic association was organized by the male students called the Oregon Agricultural College Athletic Association. In 1898 the Student Athletic Association supported the college co-eds in forming varsity basketball team. The Student Athletic Association considered the women's basketball team as an equal partner in their association. When they first organized, I think 2/3 of the student body, which was only, the whole student body was about 300 about the time and 170 were joined up. It was 30 women and the rest were men that started that in 1892, except for a ban on the intercollegiate sports that was put down on the college for two years in 1901 and 1902, the women's basketball program continued through 1908, for all those years. From 1909 to 1913, there was no inner school competition sport for women that took place.

Then in 1914, the women established their own independent athletic association known as the WAA, the Women's Athletic Association. In 1947, more familiar for the old-timers today would be the Women's Recreation Association. At this stage it had a different formula. The association supported women's intercollegiate sports at that time and the association was interested in organizing the competitions in 1914 in tennis, in field hockey with the University of Oregon in mind. In fact, here is a quote giving a little more information about the formation of the WAA in 1914. "The girls have their own branch of the Athletic Association at last and are now in a position to have the system of athletics corresponding to those of other prominent institutions. Although the policy is still to limit the amount of intercollegiate work for girls, yet the long coveted sweaters and college letters and emblems will be awarded to those girls selected to varsity teams. The basketball games are still kept within the college but most successfully intercollegiate games have been scheduled in field hockey and tennis. In fact, OAC girls have developed the sport of field hockey still new in the West beyond all other colleges on the coast." The WAA, Women's Athletic Association, was influential but not autonomous. By design the WAA and the Physical Education Department were partners. They didn't have any clear line between them, which meant what the Physical Education Department wanted to go they were going to push students. But the students were really the originators of this whole intercollegiate, interschool stuff. The Women's Physical Education Department really controlled the students who ran the WAA.


The very nature of varsity of competition was in conflict with the philosophy of women's physical education at the time whose official policy was to discourage intercollegiate sport for various reasons: the aggressive nature of competition clashed with the notion of Victorian lady-like behavior. There was the fear that competitive athletics would morph into the exploitation of women. There was a wide-held theory that too much stress on physical activity could damage a woman's uterus, a theory carried over from the late 19th century. Too much stress could lead to nervous breakdown and so on piled up against why there should be intercollegiate stressful activities. In 1920, the WAA was reorganized into an honorary organization and began a point system to earn a varsity letter. Up to that point intercollegiate sport or interschool sport was based on participation and success in a team. Now they're going towards a recreational attitude and saying no, being on a team is hard but you can also get a letter by your enthusiasm and through other avenues. Under this new structure, students did not earn letters competition only on a team but as I was just saying the co-eds earned points to receive the varsity letter. So, many points for being on a team, so many points for hiking, points for being a team manager. The emphasis was not only on skill but equally on enthusiasm and effort. Recreational sports on campus were emphasized on the fun of the thing rather than on a competitive basis. Team work in developing womanhood rather than rivalry in sports was now the goal of the WAA. The model became a girl for every team and team for every girl.

By 1925, there was a discontinuation of women's intercollegiate athletics and interclass and intramural competition became the backbone of co-ed athletics. Faculty and institutional control had virtually shackled women's competitive sports for decades to come. What evolved out of this was sports days and play days with other colleges where a school like Oregon Agricultural College, Oregon State would host a play day and we would have maybe Willamette University, U of O, come and our own women and they would engage in sports and they'd have a social hour afterwards and talk about techniques and things. That pretty much was the system that was carried on for a number of decades. Well, as I previously mentioned, there was an earlier time when women's varsity competition did exist and so let's take a look at the early women's intercollegiate sports program.

The women's program like I said began-back up to that, this was a thing I put together not totally accurate but I think it's pretty darn close-what it has, let's see, the women's program like the men's was originally student-driven. We've already mentioned that. Athletic association, that and that-make sure I don't miss anything. What we have here is every sport that was interschool or varsity from these years to the end, it seems like the first epoch of women's sports, and so in 1898 there was basketball only and basketball and basketball. The reason there were no sports here was that the university stopped it for men and women. They said there were too many injuries in football and the women's fans were too rowdy and came with a bunch of stuff and that was that. Basketball then continued on through 1908 and then there was a time from 1909 to 1913 where there was no interschool.


By the way, I use the terms intercollegiate is a little misleading because the early games a lot of the games were played with high school, not necessarily other colleges. The term varsity and extramural would actually be more appropriate at that time in that regard. Then we have another span here. 1910 there was one thing, U of O was one of the competitors that we always traditionally had. In 1910 there was a football game here in Corvallis and as U of O students were leaving a fight broke out, a big row, with trying to steal their hats and trying to throw them into Mary's River and it caused a lot of very negative action and the two schools swore they would never be competing again with each other. That lasted for a short time. Then I mentioned the formation of the WAA, the Women's Athletic Association, there were a couple reasons why it was formed. One is that the men's Langton Hall facility was open that year. The women got 800 student males moved out of the gym and coaches and the women finally had control of a building here so they got some breathing room to expand the program. The other thing too that there was field hockey and tennis, there was keen interest in that by the students. So they wanted to pursue that. First thing with tennis, it was Oregon got approached, our college here, and they organized two tournaments a year and then field hockey, which we were really keen on and developed, was the following year and we can now look at some pictures of that. I take it back, we're going to back up and go through all these wonderful basketball pictures. I had some kind of cool information on that.

The first three years the ladies played they were undefeated. The first two years in '98 and '99 there's not-so this would have been the team that practiced and played in the mechanical arts building that burned down. A number of women carried over two to three years and played. They were undefeated, like is said, all three years. Let's go to the next game, in '99 we see some similar pictures and Larry's got all their names. What's interesting about the 1900 picture and the undefeated champions here was that this was the first time they had the first picture of women wearing the letter sweater and the coveted orange symbol for in this case OAC, later it was always the big orange O. Those sweaters were paid for by the athletic, the athletic association that was set up by the men and the women and the women both. That's cool in that picture. Also, keep it on there because there is a most interesting-the Barometer wrote an article about their championship game that was held here in town, here on campus and I want to read that to you. They had a scheduled four games that year, the first one they beat Albany. It's not clear if it was Albany College or Albany High School, but there was Albany College so it very well could have been that. They defeated the Teachers College up in Monmouth and the Chemawa Native American School. Then the final game for the championship was the Portland YMCA here at the Men's and Women's gymnasium. The Barometer talks about that YMCA game and here's what it says. "The most exciting game of basketball ever played in Corvallis was the one on May 4th between the YMCA team of Portland and our home team. Our team labored under more difficulty than ever before in its history. The YMCA team was composed of women greatly above the average in size and the officials who were brought along with them were altogether one-sided in their decisions. The flu, which was prevalent, had attacked two of our best players and for several days previous to the game had been quite sick. As a result they didn't play as well as usual. The crowd witnessing the contest was very enthusiastic and towards the end of the game the excitement became so intense that they forgot themselves and despite of all precautions cheered lustily."


Lustily was enough to make the regents or the other godfathers of the university that make decisions to shut down everything. They were throwing darts at women's program when really the culprit was probably more the men's football team, the guys getting clobbered and having bad injuries.

Anyway, varsity sports for men and women, was canceled as I said during that time. That did not affect physical education classes, however. The women's basketball team in 1903 was back in business. This is the first team after the two-year layoff. The men's athletic union, they changed their name that year they talked about again talking about support that the men and the association gave towards the women said this organization supports football, baseball, basketball and track teams and has general charge of all athletes under the supervision of the athletic committee of the faculty. That was in the general catalog of 1902. Well, basketball there was no men's basketball, so they were referring to the women's basketball. I only point that out because of course the men had really took advantage and moved on their own direction and the women had to really fight to make strides forward. In this early time here we have students' own organization and these guys were behind them, the women, at that time. Our next basketball team, 1904, got a picture of them and other than the photograph. Let's move on to the next one. Another team in 1905. This gentleman was the physical director for the men's and women's program overall, Mr. Trand [phonetic]. He was coaching that year apparently. That was a winning team: six wins, two losses. Some of the teams they played: Lebanon High School, Cottage Grove High School, Roseburg High School, Chemawa Native American School, Albany, and Willamette University. Again, I don't know if that's Willamette College, or-I mean Albany College or Albany High School.

Next one, 1906 I couldn't find, well, I don't think they played in 1906 for some reason. In 1907 they had an undefeated team: seven wins and no losses. Again, some of the schools they played with: the college up in Monmouth, Willamette University, and some of those teams they played twice. Then in 1908 another winning team. This was six and two season. That's our women's basketball. Then after that and going into the next year, you can keep it right on there, there was, well, you know when you ladies walked in the tape recording that was on that interview? Well this is what Helen Gilkey had to say, probably in that interview her take: "Competition was comparative with other schools but one year the girls got into discord with some of the other schools and so they discontinued their competitive teams. They still played basketball but not with other schools." In other words, in house. Eight years passed before the next women's basketball team was put forward by the college in 1919. Also, after that 1908 season there was no intercollegiate or interschool varsity programs for the next four years. However, a very rudimentary start of intramural you might say began in 1909 with track and field. This was the housing, the dormitory, the women's, put up a competition with each other. Waldo Hall was built at that time and opened two or three years earlier. So the women of Waldo Hall got together as the one dorm and in town, the town girls formed their own team, and they had a track meet prior to this one here. This is 1910. 1909 was the first but it was so popular that it caught on and for a number of years the competition between the housing groups went on.


In the 1909 competition they had 100-yard dash, 40 hurtles, high jump, broad jump, discus and shotput, even, and relays. The following year was a bigger event between the Waldo Hall women and the town girls and what's interesting about it is in the yearbook they had some great historical photographs to show what it was like. This is from that setting. You can see how they were set up on the track and how the homemade hurdles looked. Let's go to another picture. Here they're doing the high jump. The women made a big deal at that time not to have the guys out there gawking at them doing this athletics. They made a point of saying please, boys, stay away and they even started at 5:00 in the morning. This one was advertising, well, the one before was kind of funny. In the yearbooks, students write in the yearbooks, going to have some hilarious things, they said starting when the first rooster crows. They didn't let guys out on the field which shows some class. Here we have the ladies in their bloomer outfits. This lady's bloomers over there with what the outfit and the top with the little midi-type or navy top was typical. Of course, these ladies are not competitors. They're out there judging, but that was the standard dress in 1910. It wasn't much longer, I don't know, within the next five or six years, the hems were coming up closer, but in 1910 they still had the Victorian look in the dress.

We have another picture of the sprints here. Again, these ladies were the judges and here we have Waldo and the town girls competing. Well, like I said the WAA was formed and they put together a tennis competition and the following year in 1915 field hockey and we can take the next picture shows one of the competitors that went down to the U of O. The set up was one match at the University of Oregon and one match here at Oregon Agricultural College. They also that first year, these ladies this is Anne Rutledge and I don't know if the next picture is-yeah, and Esther, they also went down to the University of California Berkeley and they took part in a tournament down there. We can move on.

So, in 1915, the following year, this is a very blurry picture and Larry your challenge is to find this particular game because it's a historic photograph because it was the first field hockey game in the Pacific Northwest which was played and you can see here is a community hall which is right over here. Was played on the lower campus. We won. We whipped U of O in that and so that's the significance in 1915. Field hockey carried on the following year. This is a great example of how letter sweaters were looking. Really highly coveted for the young ladies. They really wanted the letter sweaters with the orange O and that went on for years being a sought after thing. As we already mentioned the WAA moved that off into more recreational thing. It was all still linked with physical activities in different sports. Okay, 1916 we've got the women's tennis game and also in 1917 the tennis team. You see the outfits here are changing a little bit, still the traditional midi-type top with the navy thing. Field hockey 1917, we had a team and then also in 1917 the first swimming team came about. These pictures are taken in Shepherd Hall. You know where Shepherd Hall is. It's just over here, over the horizon in the first building. That was originally built with a swimming pool down in the basement, so it wasn't a big pool and so the women had to struggle, but they loved it right from the start. In fact, the first classes in swimming were held there in Shepherd Hall in 1912.


They struggled with that and then they would go down to the pool in Eugene to have these competitions. Then when Langton Hall added a few years later in 1920 their own swimming pool there then competitions could be held in Langton Hall swimming pool.

Let's move on. Now, this gal here is, her name is Natalie Reichart, and she came on as a freshman in the 1918s, the second year in swimming team, and was an excellent swimmer and stood out way above other athletes, whether it was U of O teams or Oregon State, and actually I would hope the Athletic Department now that they've rediscovered her would consider her for the hall of fame. Later on in 1925 to '45 she was also an instructor here at the university here and at Oregon State College. There's a picture of Natalie Reichart. I did get to interview her. She was still around in 1974 and I had a delightful telephone interview with her. She lived over in the Lebanon and Jackson area. 1919, basketball team comes back on with their first team since 1908. Didn't find a team picture but we have the coach's picture in there. Then the tennis team the following year. 1920 basketball champions... oh okay [referring to the photo on the screen]. And the next one? Baseball, okay. I have this a little out of sequence. The baseball team came on. The most particular game here was with the U of O and we beat them 22 to 20. Then baseball again in 1922 and varsity tennis also in '22. Riflery became a club that's organized and went intercollegiate for a short time. Then the following team swimming team was organized, again wearing their letter sweaters with the orange O's. Then in 1924 play dates started to show up. These women here were the junior class at the college and they went down to U of O and they played the junior class there and that was the first indication I saw of play dates. Ten years later it was like a big deal. I think in 1935 Eva Seen came on as director from '35 to '65 and she was adamant about the women's program not doing intercollegiate sports. From '24 to '34 it kind of just evolved and you don't see varsity teams coming up, although there was a tennis team that year and in 1925 another swimming team and then it kind of fades away.

That is a real quick go as to the first go-around of women's sport, intercollegiate sport, interschool sport here at Oregon State. Now, we're going to back up and spend some time. You ladies okay on time? If you have to step out don't worry. If not, we're now going to spend some time going over the actual athletic physical education separate from intercollegiate sports. When the new gym opened, we talked about the fire that happened. Let's see where did I put the picture? Or back to 20-yeah, there we go. When that opened up, it was a really popular place for the student body. About 400 students in 1899. One of the main attractions in the gym was a bowling alley that had four lanes. The physical culture became a requirement for lady students that year. In fact, here's what the general catalog of 1899 had to say: "Physical training has recently been introduced to the college courses, a regular drill for all lady students who are not physically disabled. Class work is limited to the following exercises: free movement, dumbbells, clubs, fencing, bowling, and a variety of gymnastics."


The free movement that I said refers to Swedish gymnastics that developed and shows up in the 1880s as opposed to earlier the German gymnastics with heavy equipment, Swedish gymnastics was using the wands and the dumbbells and doing exercises with free movement. The college hired a gentleman to be the first, they call him, well, first physical culture instructor. Mr. Lea, and he only taught physical culture in the women's program and not with the men. Men was taught under the military department listed as military drill in the beginning. There's a picture of Lea. At the same time, he partnered up with Helen Crawford, who was hired, this lady was hired in 1896 to be the head of the new Elocution, or the Speech Department. When the physical education and Lea came on in 1899, both of those departments for one year were combined under the same name. Helen Crawford had dabbled into some physical culture activities in 1897 and '98, was mostly stretching and related things having to do with being able to give a good speech and use your lungs properly. Anyway, she worked with Lea the first year. I think they got along really good. She learned not only what she already knew but she learned how to conduct physical culture class. Lea left that year and she continued on for the next seven years to teach physical culture. She became the first physical culture educator at OAC. After Lea left there was a couple of guys hired: Mr. Patterson for a year and Mr. Will Trine was there until 1907. But those guys were staying away from the women's actual culture classes other than team sports. They would come in and coach and work with basketball, but the basic physical education class with exercise routines and marching and that was all done with Ms. Crawford. In fact, to review, physical culture taught until she resigned, well she taught it until '07 she learned how to teach physical culture from Mr. Lea in the 1899 school year. Her students had this to say in the yearbook in 1909 Orange regarding her: "It is safe to say the wonderful health enjoyed by the girls at OAC is due in great measure to the physical culture drill which they received under the A1 instructor of professor Helen V. Crawford. One of the most popular entertainments of the year was the exhibition drills given in the spring term by the ladies' physical culture class." This would have been, her classes would have been in 1900 where they're giving the demonstrations for people. Years later, a lady named Mrs. Migelfish [phonetic], who had been a student from 1899-1902 was interviewed and she made these comments about Helen Crawford: "Physical education was taught in what is now the women's old gym. There was no special teacher who taught physical education and nothing else. The instructor divided her time between gymnastics and physical education. The sports participated in were tennis and basketball. The women were instructed to play basketball by men."

At this time the gymnasium was shared by men and women and at first that was not a problem. The college was growing so fast every year that it soon as it outgrew the capacity for the gymnasium to easily house them and they had, well actually in 1908 I mentioned there was some bowling lanes, four bowling lanes in the basement. They tore out those lanes and put in more showers and lockers for the men and women's use. It kind of gave relief for a little bit, but again each year the enrollment of the university grew more and more. By 1911 it was almost an impossible situation to have any real quality time in some of the PE classes.


In the Fall of 1908 Helen Crawford retired and the new Department of Physical Education was organized and established and Ms. Winnifred Williams was hired to head the program. She was the first focused lady who was actually paid for being specifically this physical education. At this time they were aware that graduates, a number of graduates each year would be going on into education and that to have on your resume that you had some training in physical education would be a key to get a job and the PE Department was aware of this. Beginning with this lady they started some professional classes in physical education in how to teach it to try to make the students degree a more valuable that they would get. The following year another lady was hired: Mrs. Huston and there she is. Also that year with Huston hygiene was added to the curriculum. When the first gym first opened it was 400 students using the gym. By this time there were 1,100 students by 1912 when these people actually quit and moved on. The new lady to come on 1912 was Miriam Thayer. Helen Crawford was the first real significant player, this lady was the second real significant player. What's really amazing about Thayer is she is credited with building the modern physical education program as an inspiring leader. It was this woman who started teaching swimming lessons at Shepherd Hall. Actually I think it was about 1909 when that swimming pool was first opened to women and free swimming, laissez faire, but she organized in the curriculum that and she was also there when the department was going to be ready to get the men moved out and take over the gymnasium and develop the program even more. She had also, a big win with Thayer, she was the lady that got the correctives class, the class that I was teaching, she was the one that really established the posture and made that part of it a super important part of the curriculum. So when freshmen would come in they would undergo all a physical and if they had any problems with any defects then they would take a special correctives class. Anything from whether it was scoliosis or knock knees or slouched shoulders or whatever, the best of their ability they would specialize the program. That's what carried on and became important. It wasn't just Oregon Agricultural College, this was around the country. This was part of the classical physical education at the time.

She also expanded in 1912 because that gym was gobbled up mostly with men taking over the-there was just so many of them, the classroom space, there was only required two days a week for freshman and scholars and the national norm was in any respectable college was four days a week for freshman and sophomores and they immediately got that bumped up to from two to three days of required classes and then when the men moved on she was able to get that to four days a week, minimum, with freshman and sophomore in basic physical education. She also worked on getting, because there was no minor available and none of the other schools which the main ones where women would be involved in were the Home Ec School, School of Pharmacy and the School of Commerce. But none of them recognized or designated physical education as recognized to get a minor. Which meant the students who were wanting to move on and have more training in PE and get accredited couldn't do it. They couldn't take the basic classes required.


What Thayer did that was unique was she went to the School of Pharmacy and Commerce and asked for them to make an exception for students that she would recommend. It opened the door for these young women to get accredited. Things like they would be able to take anatomy, zoology, chemistry and physics or other classes they could enroll and that would help move them on and the theory of course of physical education. Also in 1912 when she came on board there was a playground management was a new field opening up all along the West Coast. A lot of jobs were opening up. There was a great demand for instructors. She also worked on that program. Some of the significant things she did to help students move ahead who wanted to go in that direction was she brought students to campus. Here we have kids in 1918 doing games and doing stuff, dances that students could work with. She also made a bond with the City of Portland and got students that wanted to pursue this to be able to go up to Portland for summer jobs and work in the parks program for practical experience. You can see why she was a popular woman with her students.

Also, on to the next one would be the festivals. May Day pageants were also something that she promoted and became a big deal through most of the 20th century. They were typically held on lower campus. The first pageant in 1913 was such a success and had various themes that it became part of the Mother's Day weekend. By 1921 there were several hundred students involved with these pageants out in the lower campus. When she retired in 1917, about 14, 15 years later about 1931 she was interviewed and asked about her time when she was working here. This is a student that was doing a project and went and found Mary Thayer. And here's what her words that she had in reflecting back: "It's hard for me to realize that 14 years ago the women's physical education department accommodated the present enrollment of the college for the girls in the old gymnasium. Physical education classes were taught everywhere in the building, including the basement and the balconies. The type of physical education offered depended on the demand from the students. Ballet dancing was also taught, which the girls seemed very interested in. Intramural programs sponsored by the physical education department was wide and varied. Intercollegiate games were played with the University of Oregon and other neighboring colleges for two years but were soon abandoned as the strain of competition was not good for the girls' health. The women's physical education department on Oregon State campus was very strong and absolutely independent of the men's physical education department. There was a four-year service course offered for majors in PE. The graduate was often accredited to teach in Oregon, Washington, and California."

Anyway, those comments give you a little bit of insight into how the directors thought in that time and also showed how she wanted to raise the quality of physical education to the level of other respected institutions around the United States. To that end, she accomplished that goal. The following year after she left Mabel Lee was hired to work at Oregon State. Mabel Lee was only here for one year. That was a war year, the first World War, which at this time 100 years ago, and the woman's gym was taken over by the men's armory and used to house soldiers there and women were moved over to the basement of Waldo Hall.


She resigned and moved on, but I talk a little about Mabel Lee because it turns out she became a very famous woman nationally in physical education, even though she only spent a short time here. She was the first woman president of what today is known as the AAHPERD (American Association of Health Physical Education and Recreation). In 1920 she took part in a presidential-Mrs. Hoover, the president's wife-conference on the future of women's physical education in America which had an impact nationally and also she had a, to give you an idea of how strong she was, this was a quote she had regarding athletics when she moved on from here, she said: "We propose to athletics for American women but we propose to have them controlled by women, coached by women, chaperoned by women, officiated by women, trained by women, protected by women, physicians, and we say to those men of America who are not concerned with the ideals, men who would like to commercialize this growing force who seek notoriety through women's athletics we say hands off and we mean just what we say." Mabel Lee, 1925.

The next lady to come on that made a very significant impact at Oregon Agricultural College was Ms. Edna Cocks. She was the director from 1919 to 1926 and she came from USC and she was very popular with the students, liked to get involved with the students' social life as well as their academic life. She expanded the elective and theory classes that were available and like Thayer and Mable Lee, took the classical approach to physical education with the physical education exam in the first two years with correctives as needed and gymnastics program. From 1924-25, she began taking silhouette posture pictures of all students for the purpose of correcting defects. They had close-fitting bathing suits. These are actual women here at Oregon Agricultural College. They would take the photo and then draw the lines and go through the main parts of the body. In fact, they have this lined right here and then make an issue of whether they needed correctives as a basis and then move on in physical education. Over the years, and this was not unique to Oregon Agricultural College. This was nation-wide. She received many testimonials from students about how posture classes had improved their lives over the years, which I find, I'm sure she found that really great news. The School of Vocational Education in 1924 finally made a provision for a minor in Physical Education, and by 1926 that was extended to the School of Commerce and Home Ec. Things were finally starting to go in the direction for the women's Physical Education Department as far as goals to help their students. At the time, job opportunities available for physical education for graduates were high school and elementary teachers, playground community recreation leaders, YWCA instructors, swimming instructors, lifeguards and therapeutic work. Cocks also developed an off-campus training program. We have Harriet Moore, who was a predecessor of Larry's job, was actually a student of Ms. Cocks in 1924 and she stayed on to help develop a teaching program out in the Corvallis School District where students could go, co-eds could go out and teach high school and get elementary school training.

The other thing was the design of the Women's Building. She was there when Mr. Bennes and Rizzo [phonetic] were designing the building and she gave significant input as to the functional use of the Women's Building. At the turn of the century many people had not yet been exposed to the conveniences of the 20th century, and some students came from homes with no running water, electricity, or indoor plumbing. Cocks wanted to design the building to provide a cultural immersion for these people.


During the interview I had with Janette Dixon in 1974 she talked about Ms. Cocks and the ideals that she had about the Women's Building, so this is Jeanette Dixon's comments: "This was an unusual building in its way and maybe some of the others have told you about Mrs. Cocks who helped design it. She was determined to have femininity within the profession. She wanted a building that was so very lady-like and always that is why we had our bathtubs and our shampoo bowls with hair dryers. This was her idea. She wasted a terrific lot of rooms as far as space for teaching stations. It was a terrific room and everything was for beauty. We used to have lights in the pool. They are there yet but they don't work. Our swim shows would be all underneath lighting and everything, I thought it was just elegant because I'd never seen anything like it until I came out here. As you know there are a lot of lovely things in that building. It once was much prettier than it is now. They have made rooms over and reconstructed the building three or four times." This is is 1974. "But when I came in 1930, it was a beautiful, beautiful building and everything was just plush as far as I was concerned for a woman's physical education building, because I was just used to an old barn-like gym. I'll never forget my first impressions walking in there."

Well, Ms. Cocks retired from her job here at Oregon State in 1926 before the building was dedicated and the next lady with real importance was Ruth Glassow. Actually, she was here for the dedication in February 1927. Ruth Glassow made a real impact and even when she left Oregon State made a super big impact in the field of kinesiology that carried on to today in her books. From 1927 to '33 the Physical Education Department under her tutelage, and they were able to because they moved into this beautiful building, finally had everything up-to-date that they could develop a super program. They had a four-year requirement for graduation. This caused a lot of excitement in the women's Physical Education Department. About 70 women a year graduated that went on to teach throughout Oregon and California. Swimming classes were available to students and became a graduation requirement for the next 50+ years. During this time a program for freshmen was a four-year program, was developed and refined here at Oregon State and it was called physical education, fundamentals of physical education. What's interesting about that year-long course is that she had the whole staff work on, research it. When she finally left Oregon State in 1930 and two years later published a book using a lot of that information which was called, Fundamentals in Physical Education, which became a very popular book nationally with high schools and colleges and in this used her research in fundamental kinesiology and this book actually is considered a benchmark book used later, decades later, in another classic book that she put out in kinesiology. Also, the posture program that I mentioned Betty Lynd, this picture came out of her book and had been taken a few years earlier at Oregon State. These would be our co-eds and that was also a big part of the fundamental-and have a fun little walk through the women's building talking about the posture pictures. Betty Lynn that gave me a tour of the Women's Building in May of '74, and she had these comments down there: "Room 15 was the posture picture room, the big room where we had a camera and all the facilities for taking posture pictures. In those early days, we used to do our own developing. We never went downtown to be developed. But one year some boys had a song, and it went 'if I could only have a posture picture of you.' There was this popular same tune if I could only have a posture picture of you sung at that time to a popular melody."


And Betty as she walked on she was laughing the whole way and we went on to the swimming pool area. "The third floor of the Women's Building was a room called the measuring room and it was used as a research lab and equipped with testing equipment-apparatus for testing heart, lungs and motor reactions." In fact, before the building was dedicated the staff was in there in the winter of 1926 and they were testing heart recovery rates following exercise. This is a big deal. This kind of research we wouldn't see in a classic physical education time. People were concerned with good posture and other classic physical education things and not really considered doing research. So, Glassow considered the use of that and made use of it and also was doing I'm sure kinesiology work up there too.

Anyway, go to picture 49 and here's the three ladies that I featured the most was Ms. Crawford, was really the first physical educator. Mariam Thayer who established the professional physical education program. Edna Cocks who gave direction to the architects designing the new Women's Building and Ruth Glassow, who not only led during the heyday, the golden era of the Women's Building before and during the depression into, well, actually it started in the Depression, led the program and then went on to really claiming a place in American physical education history with her passion for research in physical movement. With that I think I'll take multitudes of questions, because that's the end of the program.

LL: Thank you Ted. Somebody asked me at some point-I'm sorry, go ahead.

Tiah Edmunson-Morton: I was just clapping.

LL: Somebody asked me about what happened to all the posture photos? This never happened at Oregon State but at some other universities apparently some of them were inadvertently made public and as far as I know it never happened here. But somebody asked me, well, where are those posture photos? And I said probably destroyed.

TC: Yeah, I'm sure they were destroyed. Yeah, 20 years ago about, there was a big scandal nationwide. You can go back and check the articles, because I forget the names of the universities back East, but there was a whole trove of pictures: men, I remember, and women and it was this one college that had all the men's photographs. Why they-I thought that this lady, Cocks, who started doing it where they wore a tight-fitting bathing suit, I thought that was so classy because they did hundreds of women that way. You keep out of the dog house with having them strip down, but naked stuff was-when Mabel Lee, she went back East she was at, I believe a college in Wisconsin I think and in the men's gym the guys were playing basketball and swimming in the nude and the women had to use that gym so they would have to assign a time when they could get in there when they would. One of her classes walks in once out on the basketball court, and these guys, half of them are nude and half of them have a t-shirt on and just like did a tailspin. She was so ferociously upset. She was a great leader and that was the fight she had at that college with that kind of fighting this macho problem.


Here at Oregon State men did swim naked over here too, and the women when they would at times, I don't know the particular time but I know a story they had the swimming pool, and in fact Langton Hall is set up so you can't walk directly into the-or you couldn't, I don't know how it is today-directly into the swimming area, so you had to go through the locker rooms. So they had it set up where the women would come over, and this is before of course the Women's Building, so this is pre-1926. They would go over and they'd have to climb up from the balcony down to the swimming pool to get in. But yeah there's been some, because you know-I'm not really answering the question, it's so, so great. But that's a little bit that I research. If you look back, in fact it gave a bad name to the posture class, unfortunately. I think-I've heard comments from some of the old timers that they wish that class was back because it makes people aware, if nothing else-a posture, a relaxation class it makes you aware of what you look-because you take a photograph. We took photographs, they had a one-piece bathing suit. The gals, could have been guys, the men didn't have that, see how they looked, work on it, and even self-awareness. That was not the original purpose of the class. The purpose of the thing was to look for defects and then have special exercises strengthening to overcome. But a benefit of it is self-awareness and I think what... who did I say? Cocks got a lot of feedback from students was the self-awareness thing with students-I'm probably guessing, it was probably they had some help, whether it was some sort of physical thing that improved with muscular exercise but also just the self-awareness and that's a huge deal. A lot of people don't know what they look like, you know, unless you're always constantly bugging your kids stand up straight. Get your head back. But that's that.

TEM: I'm curious about the requirement of physical culture, well, maybe, I'm curious about Thayer working with the School of Home Ec, Commerce, and Pharmacy to have physical education accessible or required?

TC: Oh, okay. I think it was actually it was only one of the schools. I shouldn't have said all three. Initially that she approached, I think it was the School of Commerce. Again, they didn't have the-what's the right word? They didn't have it set up for students that wanted to pursue physical education that they couldn't enroll. In other words, it was part of their curriculum. The students that wanted to couldn't enroll. What she did, she went through the backdoor. She went and shook a hand with a director of the school and said look can my students that want to pursue and get a minor in physical education, if I give them a note that says this is a student that's a professional, would you honor that and let them take these classes? Of course, that was politics. She got it off the ground. That's part of why I say she helped established the modern program. It wasn't too long but within a few years after that that these different schools they accepted students as part of, they could enroll as a PE minor and that opened up the door for them to then enroll in necessary classes.

TEM: So they would be secretarial science majors, but then they could minor in physical education?

TC: Yeah. If you look at the old catalogs that jumps out to you. You can see that. The hard part is finding what year and then it opens up.

TEM: Yeah, that's something that I was actually-I've been looking at the old course catalogs-that's something I was noticing is that there would be different term or credit requirements for men and women, that women would have two credits required for physical education and men had only one credit required. I don't know if that's because they were doing military training too?

TC: [Shakes head]

TEM: It's interesting. Okay, thank you.

LL: I think you're right. Military training would count as a phys ed credit.

TC: You kept the motion of the ocean today. Thank you for being here. Do you teach here [Speaking to person in audience]?

Audience Member: I'm in this department, yeah.

TC: Oh, so you have the iron fist. [laughs]

Audience Member: I'm here because I'm interested.

TC: Thank you. I appreciate it.

LL: Well, thank you Ted.



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