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University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women records

Identifier: IWA0106

  • Staff Only
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Scope and Contents

The University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women records date from 1900 to 2010 and measure 75 linear feet. The papers are arranged in thirteen series: Departmental history, Administrative correspondence, Administrative Records, Facilities, Intercollegiate athletics, Student organizations, Professional organizations, World War II, Publications, Photographs, Artifacts, and Audio Visual materials. The Women's Recreation Association (WRA) records are held in a separate collection-the University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women/Women's Recreational Association-at the Iowa Women's Archives.

The Departmental History series (1934-1999) contains university publications, correspondence, and three scrapbooks that document and reflect the social activities and departmental accomplishments achieved by both students and faculty of the Department of Physical Education for Women. Obituaries, eulogies and remembrances of deceased faculty and alumnus complete the series.

The Administrative Correspondence series (1916-1995) includes class schedules, newspaper clippings from the 1930s and 1940s, literature about gymnasium clothing from 1930 and 1964, a student-teacher report, and correspondence relating to the pros and cons of the physical education requirement. The administrative correspondence of three former department chairs: Elizabeth Halsey (1925-1955), M. Gladys Scott (1955-1974) and Margaret Fox (1974-1978) comprise the bulk of this series. Interfiled within their correspondence are those of persons serving as interim chairs, including Marjorie Camp and Miriam Taylor during Halsey's tenure.

The Intercollegiate Athletics series (1953-1997) traces the formal organization and development of intercollegiate athletics for women at The University of Iowa. In addition to administrative records, this series includes records from the university's Women's Intercollegiate Sport Committee (WISC), the statewide Women's Intercollegiate Athletic Committee (WIAC), and the national and state Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women organizations (AIAW and IAIAW). The Intramurals sub series consists primarily of records from the Big Ten Women's Intramural Conferences. At these conferences, women's physical educators discussed and debated the merits and logistics of offering intramural and extramural sport activities for college women. Supporting documents such as school intramural handbooks and surveys on women's sport programs are included.

The Student Organizations series documents the yearly activities of the Iowa City Field Hockey Club, whose membership consisted of women's physical education faculty members, former students, and Iowa City residents. This series also contains records from the United States Field Hockey Association (USFHA) and the Midwest Field Hockey Association (MWFHA). The Iowa City Field Hockey Club hosted the Midwest Tournament in 1956 and 1962. They joined the student-run WAA Field Hockey Club in welcoming the Welsh Touring Team in 1936, and they hosted teams from Switzerland and Argentina for the 1963 USFHA International Tour. The Iowa City Field Hockey Club often practiced and played against the WRA Field Hockey Club (see the WRA Series). Also included in the Student Organizations series, materials on the P.E. Major Council (1922-1974) documents the activities and organizational structure of this group and the affiliated P.E. Majors (P.E.M.) Alumnae Association. This sub-series includes the constitutions, minutes accounts, and correspondence, as well as their newsletter, "Major Matters," and information on banquets and social activities.

The Professional Organizations (1900-1997) series houses records from the variety of national, regional and state organizations to which department faculty members belonged. These organizations focused on issues and debates in the areas of physical education, health, recreation, intramurals and sport.

The World War II series (1941-1942) is comprised of materials relating to military leisure and recreation programs, the United Service Organizations (USO), and papers advocating specific wartime physical education and training programs for college women, naval aviation schools, and others. The USO file also includes two pieces of correspondence from Iowa students reporting on the USO and recreation opportunities.

The Administrative Records series (1916-2006) contains financial records, meeting minutes, course outlines and teaching material for skills and major courses. Included are academic requirements for undergraduate and graduate students, a departmental analysis, and research files that contain data, statistical analyses, and manuscripts written by both faculty and students. Margaret Fox's research and teaching materials were removed and placed within the Margaret Fox papers.

The Facilities series (1944-1979) includes a 1944 "Needs and Plans" report prepared by the department relating to building and equipment needs, and budgets and correspondence dealing with a proposed addition to the Women's Gymnasium (1951-1952).

A collection of periodicals, educational and government issued pamphlets, and teaching manuals pertaining to issues of health, physical education and recreation are located in the Publications (1914-1984) series. Shelved with the printed works collection are the 1927 through 1932 bound volumes of the Sportswoman, The Theory and Technique of Women's Basketball (1929) by Marjorie E. Fish, and the Girl Scout Song Book (1929) published by the Girls Scouts, Inc. A number of faculty and student research publications are also included in this series.

An extensive collection of Photographs (1906-2006) depict a wide variety of athletic activities, in addition to portraits of faculty and students, university buildings, children's classes, and departmental social events. Photographs of alumnus were collected for the department's centennial anniversary.

The Artifacts series includes a wooden volleyball Champs placard, unidentified wool basketball uniform and a blue tunic worn with bloomers, as well as a number of scrapbooks and other ephemera.

The Audio Visual series (1933-2001) consists of reel-to-reel films of sporting events (primarily field hockey), instructional guides for sport and recreation, thesis/student projects and miscellaneous topics such as modern dance and posture. The series also includes CBS's broadcast of the 1991 NCAA final between Iowa and Vanderbilt, and a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Iowa women's intercollegiate sports program that includes remarks by Christine Grant and University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman, an historical overview of women's sports at the University of Iowa and interviews with former University of Iowa women athletes.


  • Creation: 1900-2010


Conditions Governing Access

Boxes 1 - 98 are open for research. There is limited access to boxes 99 - 200, please contact the archives for details on specific boxes or files. Boxes 136, 219, and 220 that are closed through 2020.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Conditions Governing Use

Box 236 includes sensitive information about department personnel and changes to the undergraduate curriculum. It is closed until 2020 when the restriction will be reevaluated.

Boxes 219 and 220 contain materials with sensitive information related to the merger with Leisure Studies and the dissolution of the Health and Sport Studies Department. They are closed until 2020 when the restriction will be reevaluated.

Biographical or Historical Information

In 1900 the Department of Physical Culture and Athletics had only one woman member, an assistant in charge of physical training for women. By 1924 the Department of Physical Education was established with four departments: inter-collegiate athletics, physical education for men, physical education for women, and intramural games. By that year every member of the women's staff was a graduate of a physical education school and a major field of study in Women's Physical Education was established.

The women's physical education program became a pioneer in the development of graduate study and professional training. Elizabeth Halsey headed the department from 1924-1955. M.Gladys Scott, who received the first Ph.D. in women's physical education from the University of Iowa in 1937, succeeded Halsey as department chair from 1955-1974. Margaret Fox (1974-1978), N. Peggy Burke (1978-1987), Yvonne (Bonnie Slatton (1987-2000), and Susan Birrell (2000- ) followed in succession as department chairpersons. The athletic/physical education departments were later reorganized in a variety of configurations including the Department of Physical Education and Dance (1976-1987), Physical Education and Sport Studies (housed within the Division of Physical Education) (1987-1993), the Department of Sport, Health, Leisure and Physical Studies (1993-2000), the Department of Health, Leisure and Sport Studies (2000-2001) and the Department of Health and Sport Studies (2001-2010). Physical education is no longer offered as a field of study.

The Women's Athletic Association (WAA), an intramural organization with both an athletic and social focus, was organized in 1911 to "promote a spirit of fair play and sportsmanship among girls." The Association was comprised of various clubs, including Orchesis (dance), Seals (swimming) and others for outing, hockey, canoeing, archery, badminton, tennis, basketball, and handicrafts. The group sponsored tournaments, play days, classes in social dancing, and all-freshmen parties. In 1941, the name of the organization changed to the Women's Recreation Association (WRA). The WAA/WRA provided college women opportunities to participate in sports, either intramural or as a member of a sport club, as there were no varsity sport teams available for women at The University of Iowa until the late 1960s and early 1970s. Intercollegiate athletics for women at The University of Iowa originated in the Department of Physical Education for Women in the late 1960s and early 1970s and maintained that association until 2000. This relationship stemmed from the philosophy of the women physical educators and the value they placed on education and women-centered and controlled sport.

In 1973, Christine Grant was appointed Director of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, a position she held until her retirement in August 2000. Following Grant's retirement, the women's and men's athletic departments were merged, ending Iowa's tenure as one of the few NCAA Division I schools to maintain a separate department and director of athletics for women. The Division of Physical Education was served by several different chairpersons, including Arnold Small, Alicia Brown, and Benjamin Hunnicutt. Bonnie Slatton's leadership began as chair of the Physical Education and Sport Studies Department within this division.

The Department of Physical Education and Sport Studies was located within the Division of Physical Education. Other departments in this division were Exercise Science, Leisure Studies, and Dance. The Department was known as the Department of Health and Sport Studies until 2010, when the Department of Health and Studies was dissolved.


AAHPER(D)- American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. Established in 1973. Formerly known as the American Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (AAHPER) and the American Physical Education Association (APEA, established 1885). Individuals, not institutions were members of AAHPER. Sometimes known as AAHPERD (American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance). DGWS and AIAW were originally components of AAHPER before AIAW legally separated in 1979.

ACE- American Council on Education. Partnered with AIAW on hearings, reports, and conferences.

AIAW- Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. Membership-based athletic governance organization, founded in 1971. First championships were held in 1972, legally separated from AAHPER in 1979, and ceased operations June 1982.

CIAW- Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. Precursor to AIAW, created by DGWS to oversee growing interest and demand for intercollegiate athletics for women. Created in 1966 and became AIAW in 1972.

DGWS- Division for Girls and Women in Sports. Association within AAHPER.

HEW- department of Health, education, and Welfare. United States federal governmental department responsible for Title IX interpretations.

NAGWS- National Association for Girls and Women in Sports. Association within AAHPER, comprised of DGWS, the National Section on Girls and Women's Sports (NSGWS), and teh National Section on Women's Athletics (NSWA).

NAPECW- National Association for Physical Education of College Women. Previously National Association for Directors of Physical Education for College Women, National Association of Directors of Physical Education for Women in Colleges and Universities.

NAIA- National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Allied with AIAW until 1980, when they began offering women's championships.

NJCAA- National Junior College Athletic Association

NCAA- National Collegiate Athletic Association

USOC- United States Olympic Committee

Department Chairpersons

Elizabeth Halsey
M.Gladys Scott
Margaret Fox
N. Peggy Burke
Yvonne (Bonnie) Slatton
Susan Birrell

Department Names

Physical Education for Women
Physical Education and Dance
Physical Education and Sport Studies
Sport, Health, Leisure and Physical Studies
Health, Leisure, and Sport Studies
Health and Sport Studies


75.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The department was established in 1924 and was a pioneer in the development of graduate study and professional training. The department existed until 2010 under a variety of names and organizations.

Method of Acquisition

The records (donor no. 257) were donated by the Department of Sport, Health, Leisure and Physical Studies in 1995 and subsequent years.

Existence and Location of Originals

University of Iowa Physical Education for Women

Related Materials


C. Pauline Spencer papers: Spencer was a 1923 graduate of the Department of Physical Education for Women.

N. Peggy Burke papers: Burke was a department chair in the Department of Physical Education for Women.

Christine Grant papers: Grant was a graduate and faculty member of the University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women, and the director of Women's Athletics.

Geraldine Greenlee papers: Greenlee was a graduate of the Department of Physical Education for Women.

Margaret Fox papers: Fox was a department chair in the Department of Physical Education for Women.

Marcia Thayer papers: Thayer was a dance faculty member in the Department of Physical Education for Women.

University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women/Women's Recreation Association Records.

WSUI- Julie Englander, "100th Anniversary of UI Health and Sport Studies." The WSUI records, which contain oral interviews with alumnae and faculty of the Department of Health and Sport Studies.

Shelley Lucas, 2001; Jun-Nicole Matsushita, 2006; Sharon M. Lake, 2007; Katherine Walden, 2018.
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Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)