June 2, 2009

June 1919: Physical Director of Women

The June 1919 Bulletin of the College of William and Mary, which published the academic year catalogue 1918-1919, listed a new physical director of women, Bertha Wilder. This is inline with the hiring of new staff to oversee and educate the newly admitted Marys. Although Ms. Wilder is listed in the catagloue, her hire is not mentioned in the Board of Visitors meeting minutes. The catalogue defines and describes the necessity of physical education for women as

"The physical training for women includes various forms of gymnasium exercises, folk dancing, basket-ball, field hockey, baseball and tennis. Every student is required to take three hours a week of regular gymnasium work, unless excused for reasons of health; in which case special exercises will be adopted by the physical director to suit the individual needs of the student."

In addition to the 1918-1919 catalgoue, Ms. Wilder appears in the 1919 Colonial Echo yearbook with the title of "Athletic Director."

This post was composed by Jeffreen Hayes.

For additional information about the first women students at the College of William and Mary see: When Mary Entered with her Brother William: Women at the College of William and Mary, 1918-1945 by Laura F. Parrish; "The Petticoat Invasion": Women at the College of William and Mary, 1918-1945; The Martha Barksdale Papers; and the Women at the College of William and Mary page on the Special Collections Research Center Wiki.

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