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Records of the Department of Women's Physical Education

Identifier: UWPE

Scope and Contents

The Records of the Department of Women's Physical Education consists of documents dated 1920 to 1988, with the bulk falling from 1930 to 1970. Materials include correspondence, group notebooks and financials, event programs, scrapbooks, photographs, and films. Since the Department of Women's Physical Education, the Women's Athletic Association (WAA), and the Women's Recreation Association (WRA) were so closely entwined over the years, there are records for all three organizations in the collection.

A large portion of the records belonged to Elizabeth Forbes, who oversaw women's physical education from 1920 until her retirement in 1959. Many of the photographs showing athletic activities and participants are undated but appear to be from the 1920s to 1970s, with the bulk from the 1930s and 1940s.


  • Creation: 1920-1988
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930-1970


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection except the Gradebooks are restricted until 2029.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


As early as the 1907-1908 school year, Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University) female students were expected to participate in gymnasium during their freshman and sophomore years. Physical training was established during the 1910-1911 school year. Mrs. Agnes Upson was the instructor in physical culture for women. All female students were required to complete a course in physical culture during their freshman through junior years; seniors and students in the Musical Department were exempt. Exercises included marching, calisthenics, apparatic games, tennis, quoits, basketball, walking, and the use of dumb bells. Elizabeth Forbes was hired to teach physical training for women in 1920. In 1921, the Women's Club Building opened, for the first time giving women on campus their own locker room, gymnasium, and swimming pool.

To encourage women to participate in intramurals such as field hockey, tennis, volleyball, archery, and soccer, Forbes established the Women's Athletic Association (WAA) in May 1922. The Department of Physical Education was established for the 1925-1926 school year, with separate courses for men and women. The Physical Education Majors (PEM) Club was a group open to all women students majoring or minoring in physical education. The club's purpose was to promote good fellowship among women in physical education and extend professional opportunities and knowledge to its members.


23.25 linear feet (3 record cartons, 15 flat boxes)

Language of Materials



The Records of the Department of Women's Physical Education documents the development of women's athletics and physical training at Colorado State University. Records include programs, photographs, and scrapbooks of social gatherings such as the May Fete and dance performances, courses offered by the department in various sports such as swimming and gymnastics, and intra and extramural activities such as tennis, The Swan Club, and basketball. Scrapbooks, handbooks, financial statements and notebooks document organizations associated with women's physical education including the Physical Education Majors (PEM) Club, the Women's Athletic Association (WAA), and the Women's Recreation Association (WRA).


The collection consists of 3 series in 3 record cartons and 15 flat boxes:

Series 1: Departmental records, 1920-1988 and undated

Series 2: Photographs and films, 1930-1970 and undated

Subseries 2.1: Photographs, 1930-1970 and undated

Subseries 2.2: Films, 1965-1969 and undated

Series 3: Scrapbooks, 1933-1970


The Records of the Department of Women's Physical Education was transferred by Irmel Fagan in 1989.

Online Materials

Some materials have been scanned and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.

Related Collections

Records of the Women's Athletic Association, University Archive, Colorado State University

Women's Recreation Association Scrapbooks, University Archive, Colorado State University

Papers of Irmel W. Fagan, University Archive, Colorado State University


Processing was completed July 2015. Materials were rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes.

Guide to the Records of the Department of Women's Physical Education
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Karen Spilman
Copyright 2015
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA