A Historic Collection of Athletic Wear Worn by Women College Students

Mount Holyoke College, the highly rated liberal arts educational institution for women in South Hadley, Massachusetts, has announced that it is archiving and preserving a large collection of women’s athletic wear that dates back to the 1890s. Much of the collection was kept in archival boxes in a closet and the college is taking steps to preserve the collection.

Included in the collections are bloomers, stocking, basketball uniforms, and wool bathing suits. Elaine Bergeron, the costume shop manager at the college’s Rooke Theater who is participating in the preservation effort, notes that “it’s amazing that even when women gained the freedom to participate in sports, they were still so literally restricted by their clothing.”

Current Mount Holyoke students have been conducting research through college yearbooks and other publications to put a date on clothing in the collection. The collection will ultimately be shown in an exhibit on campus.

The college stated that “historic collections of women’s athletic apparel are rare. This is partly due to the cultural norms of the time — social mores of the late 1800s and early 1900s prevented women from wearing athletic clothes in mixed company. Mount Holyoke’s single-sex campus would have been one of the very few places where women could engage freely in sports.”

Filed Under: Women's CollegesWomen's Studies


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply