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Ainsworth, Dorothy Sears (08 March 1894–02 December 1976), physical education teacher and founder of international organizations for her discipline, was born in Moline, Illinois, the daughter of Harry Ainsworth, an engineering draftsman, and Stella Davidson. Miss Ainsworth graduated with a B.A. in history from Smith College in 1916. After her undergraduate education, she taught physical education at Moline High School. In 1918 she was invited to join the first Smith College Relief Unit, founded by another Smith alumna, ...

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Mabel Lee. Courtesy of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

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Lee, Mabel (18 August 1886–03 December 1985), physical education teacher, advocate, and author, was born in Clearfield, Iowa, to Jennie Aikman Lee and David Alexander Lee, who was in the lumber business at the time. Although small, underweight, and often ill as a child, Mabel enjoyed physical games and activities that she called “natural gymnastics.” These were especially important to her because organized physical education was not then part of the school system. In 1893, when Mabel's father joined his two brothers in the coal business, the family moved to Centerville, Iowa, where Mabel was to graduate from high school in 1904. Attending Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she majored in psychology and minored in biology....

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Perrin, Ethel (07 February 1871–15 May 1962), physical educator, was born in Needham, Massachusetts, the daughter of David Perrin, a merchant, and Ellen Hooper. Perrin was educated privately as a young girl, then enrolled in Howard Collegiate Institute in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, in 1888. At the Howard Institute Perrin discovered her love of physical activity and enjoyed the formal aspects of training she received in this area. After her graduation in 1890, she enrolled in the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, a physical training school for women recently established by Amy Homans. She was a member of the second graduating class of the Boston School in 1892 and joined its faculty that same year; she continued to teach at the school until 1906. Throughout her career in Boston, she promoted the school’s emphasis on Swedish gymnastics and participated in its becoming one of the most prominent physical training schools in the country....

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Wade, Margaret (30 December 1912–16 February 1995), basketball coach and physical education teacher, was born Lily Margaret Wade, in McCool, Mississippi, the eighth and last child of Robert Miller Wade and Bettie Veal Wade, farmers. Margaret grew up at a time when high school women’s basketball was extremely popular in small towns and rural communities throughout the country. Her parents farmed land near Cleveland, Mississippi, and she played forward for the Lady Wildcats of Cleveland High School. After graduating in 1929 she enrolled at the recently opened Delta State Teachers College in Cleveland, where she studied physical education. Delta State started a women’s basketball team her freshman year, and Wade played the first three seasons. The team, however, proved short-lived. A national group of college-based female physical educators had launched a campaign against women’s competitive sports, arguing that women were better served by “moderate” exercise and noncompetitive play. After the 1932 season Delta State administrators succumbed to those arguments and ruled that basketball was “too strenuous for young ladies.” Wade and her teammates were furious. “We cried and burned our uniforms,” she later recalled, “but there was nothing else we could do.”...

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Wightman, Hazel Hotchkiss (20 December 1886–05 December 1974), tennis player, teacher, and patron, was born Hazel Virginia Hotchkiss in Healdsburg, California, the daughter of William Joseph Hotchkiss, a ranch owner and cannery founder, and Emma Lucretia Grove. In poor health as a child, Hazel became robust and athletic playing baseball, cricket, and field sports with her older brothers Miller, Homer, and Marius, and her friends. In 1900 her father moved his office to San Francisco, California, and the family’s residence to Berkeley, California, where his children played lawn tennis. Two years later her brothers took Hazel to watch the Pacific States (later Pacific Coast) championships in San Rafael, California. She thought a Sutton sisters baseline duel monotonous but, on a subsequent trip, thrilled to the spectacular volleying, smashing, and net attack of the brothers Samuel and Sumner Hardy, former Pacific champions. The youngsters played on the asphalt court at the University of California at Berkeley during early mornings; they later played on their home makeshift court, where erratic bounces on gravel forced them to volley constantly to sustain rallies. Hotchkiss also practiced solo against a barn wall. Self-taught, she quickly mastered grips, strokes, footwork, and proper balance, and her forte as a net and overhead attacker was established early....