A Newsletter of the White River Valley Museum

April 1996

Women's Sports

by Dr. Tina Brewster Wray, Curator of Collections


"The main reason for having girls' athletics in our school
is to promote the physical side of life as well as the mental.
We go to school to learn but also, we try to build up
our physical selves so that we will be better women
in future years. The women of a few years ago
were just little home bodies, but nowadays,
because of public education and physical education,
we are showing the world what we really can do."

Auburn Invader, 1925

Auburn High School BasketBall Team, 1924
Auburn High School Basketball Team, 1924.
Coach Miss Boyer, Alice Moyer front row left,
Doris Sullenburger, second row left.
Others include: Helen Weaver, Lema Elliot, Lilly Southerland,
Kathy Davis, Pirnie Jones, Zelda Gleason, Elizabeth Richards.

During the early 20th century, American schools experienced dramatic transformations. These changes were the result of the School Reform movement, whose supporters believed that schools should not only provide basic education, but must also focus on the physical and moral development of the child. To this end, the reformers advocated music and arts education, vocational training and physical education. Sports, for both boys and girls, were considered especially important for developing individual talents with wholesome and moral after-school activities.

In Washington State, school reforms gained momentum after women acquired the vote in 1910. In 1912, women helped elect one of the leaders of the reform movement as state superintendent of schools. By the 1920s as the result of the adoption of these reforms, Auburn High School girls such as Alice Moyer had the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports, including basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis and track. In fact, participation in sports was so popular that the Invader reported, "It is difficult to say which is liked best because so many girls try out for each one."

Some of Alice Moyer's letters.

The WRVM has a collection of Auburn High School letters that belonged to Alice Moyer, (class of 1925). Alice had been on every volleyball, basketball and baseball team, and had been captain of all at various times. She was also on the track team for two years. Her letters are cut from white and green felt, and unlike those of later years, are homemade and individualistic. They provide testimony to an all-around athlete who was fortunate to have the opportunity to express and develop her talents. These letters are currently on display at the WRVM as part of the exhibit, "School Days: 100+ Years of Auburn Schools" through June 2.

Dr. Tina Brewster Wray