Celebrating Women and Sport

One of our graduate student workers spent last semester processing additions to IWA’s University of Iowa Department of Physical Education for Women collection. The new material included everything from Women as Leaders conference records to faculty publications. But one item in the new material surprised us–a scrapbook from the 1930s with “Work Projects Administration” inscribed on the inside cover.

1930s WPA Scrapbook 1930s WPA Scrapbook

One of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal economic stimulus programs, the Works Progress Administration (WPA, renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939) made significant contributions to American infrastructure in the 1930s, building roads, bridges, and the University of Iowa’s original Theatre Building.

Workman standing on the seating tiers during construction of the Theatre Building, the University of Iowa, 1935 (Iowa Digital Library)
Workman standing on the seating tiers during construction of the Theatre Building, the University of Iowa, 1935 (Iowa Digital Library)

Federal Project Number One, a subset of the WPA, provided employment for artists, actors, writers, directors, and musicians by sending them to local communities across the United States, including Iowa City and towns.

Poster announcing winter sports festival to be held at Hubbard Park on January 20 and at Gilman Terrace on the 21st, showing three stylized ice skaters, 1940. (Prints & Photographs/Library of Congress)
Poster announcing winter sports festival to be held at Hubbard Park on January 20 and at Gilman Terrace on the 21st, showing three stylized ice skaters, 1940. (Prints & Photographs/Library of Congress)

Poster announcing opening of recreation centers by the Sioux City Dept. of Public Recreation with a program list featuring men's gym, social recreation, table tennis, basketball, arts ,crafts, badminton, dramatics, volleyball, reading room, dancing, and games, 1940. (Prints & Photographs, Library of Congress).
Poster announcing opening of recreation centers by the Sioux City Dept. of Public Recreation with a program list featuring men’s gym, social recreation, table tennis, basketball, arts, crafts, badminton, dramatics, volleyball, reading room, dancing, and games, 1940. (Prints & Photographs, Library of Congress).

Research on the scrapbook continues, but we are excited about this find and wanted to share these images with those who aren’t able to visit the Archives in person. So stay tuned to our social media channels (Twitter and Tumblr) in February, as we dive into this scrapbook together and see how an unknown WPA photographer documented women’s physical education at the University of Iowa.

A few sneak previews:

Women's basketball, 1931
Women’s basketball, 1931

Badminton, 1939
Badminton, 1939

Children's Rhythms, 1938
Children’s Rhythms, 1938

Dance, 1928
Dance, 1928

 

The 2017-2018 academic year is the 25th anniversary of the Iowa Women’s Archives, but 2018 also marks 25 years since 6-on-6 girl’s basketball was played in Iowa. IWA is partnering with the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service for their Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America exhibit. Click here to learn more about IWA’s role in this exhibit.

Here at the Iowa Women’s Archives, we believe every woman has a story and every girl has a voice. And if you were part of the 6-on-6 movement or participated in women’s athletics, physical education, or recreation, we’d love to hear from you and talk about the possibility of adding your story to our collection. Drop us a line at lib-women@uiowa.edu or 319-335-5068.