American Women's Track and Field: A History, 1895 Through 1980

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9780786402199: American Women's Track and Field: A History, 1895 Through 1980

In 1985 the Vassar College Athletic Association ignored the constraints placed on women athletes of that era and held its first-ever womens field day, featuring competition in five track and field events. Soon colleges across the country were offering women the opportunity to compete, and in 1922 the United States selected 22 women to compete in the Womens World Games in Paris. Upon their return, female physical educators severely criticized their efforts, decrying the evils of competition. Wilma Rudolphs triumphant Olympics in 1960 sparked renewed support for womens track and field in the United States. From 1922 to 1960, thousands of women competed, and won many gold medals, with little encouragement or recognition. This reference work provides a history, based on many interviews and meticulous research in primary source documents, of womens track and field, from its beginnings on the lawns of Vassar College in 1895, through 1980, when Title IX began to create a truly level playing field for men and women. The results of Amateur Athletic Union Womens Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Championships since 1923 are given, as well as full coverage of female Olympians.

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From Booklist:

To commemorate the centennial of organized women's track and field in 1995, Tricard compiled this detailed record of achievements in this athletic arena. Beginning in 1837, when Mount Holyoke College required women to walk one mile a day, walking became the first "women's sport." In 1895, the women of the Vassar College Athletic Association organized the first field day for women in the U.S. The author notes, "By 1922, track and field for women was fashionable in colleges and schools across the nation. Dr. Harry Eaton Stewart organized a competition to select a United States team to compete internationally in the Women's World Games in Paris." Although the team triumphed, Stewart was criticized by physical educators, "who sought to protect the girls in the United States from the `evils' of competition." As a result, women's track and field suffered. It was not until 1962, following Wilma Rudolph's success at the 1960 Rome Olympics, that women's track and field once again became popular in colleges and schools nationwide.

Tricard's meticulous research results in chronologically arranged lists of victorious women in events beginning with Vassar's first field day through 1980 competitions. But this work is more than just a list of events and winners. The author interviewed many people who participated in or coached women's athletics and provides brief biographical sketches of "Babe" Didrikson, Wilma Rudolph, Ed Temple, Kate Schmidt, and many others. Black-and-white illustrations include participants and a program from the Vassar field day. Appendixes list halls of fame (although the Helms Hall of Fame should be explained), awards, a list of Olympic gold medalists (1928^-80), marathon winners, and a chronology of women's events. A detailed bibliography and a good index complete the work.

American Women's Track and Field is highly recommended for large public libraries and academic libraries. It is a vital resource for anyone interested in the history of this sport.

Review:

"a must for all interested in the history of women's track and field.... All levels" -- Choice

"astonishing.... Tricard's landmark reference work is based on interviews with remarkable characters and a wealth of primary source documents...excellent 38-page bibliography...the 43-page index is superb" -- The International Journal of the History of Sport

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Tricard, Louise Mead
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