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University of Iowa News Release

 

March 4, 2009

UI Libraries digitizes women's physical education image collection

Almost 1,000 historic photographs of University of Iowa women's physical education classes -- from archery and synchronized swimming to basketball and dance -- are now publicly available online.

In celebration of Women's History Month, the University of Iowa Libraries has released the UI Department of Physical Education for Women digital collection online at http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/wpe.

The photographs, spanning almost 100 years (1906-2004), are part of a larger manuscript collection that documents the rise of women's athletics at Iowa from the one-member Department of Physical Culture and Athletics to the dawn of women's intercollegiate sports. The Department of Physical Education for Women at the UI was a pioneer in the development of graduate study and professional training as well as athletic opportunities for women.

"These photographs offer a fabulous window into women's sport -- and campus life -- over the past century. They're very appealing, from the expected team portraits and sports action shots to the more surprising images of laboratory experiments, rifle enthusiasts, and slumber parties," says Kären Mason, curator of the Iowa Women's Archives. "The digital collection provides easy access to these photos, and I hope it will inspire people to explore the equally fascinating records of the Department of Physical Education for Women that are available in the archives."

Intercollegiate athletics for women at the UI 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 women-controlled sport.

"Those two key, related notions are still at the heart of the current Department of Health and Sport Studies: that sport and physical activity should be part of a liberal arts education and that they can contribute greatly to both individual well-being and the social good," says Catriona Parratt, associate professor in the Department of Health and Sport Studies. "We are delighted that the Iowa Women's Archives digital photographic collection will make it easier for many more people to appreciate this aspect of the university's mission."

This historic image collection is the latest edition to the Iowa Digital Library -- http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu -- which contains more than 225,000 digital artifacts, including photographs, maps, sound recordings and documents from libraries and archives at the UI and their partnering institutions as well as faculty research collections.

To explore the vast digital holdings from the Iowa Women's Archives, a portal that allows users to browse by subject, time period or artifact type is available online at http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa. It will be continually updated with new items drawn from the archive's 1,100 manuscript collections, which have provided valuable primary source materials for books, articles, theses and class projects on women's history.

For more information about the collection, contact Kären Mason, curator of the Iowa Women's Archives, at 335-5068.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Kristi Bontrager, University of Iowa Libraries, 319-335-5960; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012, george-mccrory@uiowa.edu