The forerunner of the Women’s Athletic Association/ Recreation Association was the Gymnasium and Field Association organized at Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1904. The creator, Delphine Hanna, expressed that the organization would help college women and girls “become proficient in some sport that she could carry over into her life after college.” The first initiation of the Women’s Athletic Association was by Bryn Mawr College, which united student sports clubs under one organization.
During the Great Depression and through World War II, WAAs grew in number around the country; however, under a different function and scope. Due to the removal of state and national championships for women, intramurals and extramural “play days” were developed as an alternative form of competition. Usually working with the women’s physical education departments, intramural programs especially flourished throughout the country, with many being sponsored by the WAA/WRA. College and university WAA’s found shared support in the Athletic Conference of American College Women as it provided WAA a national, sectional, and state structure.
On local campuses, the need for associations grew due to limited opportunities for voluntary extra-class activities related to sports, and could allow for more connections with others. As women with non-competitive interests such as dance, hiking, and camping wanted to participate in the WAA, the organization soon expanded to include them. This decision was later reflected by the name change in many schools, from the Women’s Athletic Association to the Women’s Recreation Association.
At Springfield College, the Women’s Athletic Association began when the first full class of women students arrived on campus in 1951. The WAA changed its name to the Women’s Recreation Athletics (WRA) around the 1963-1964 school year. The mission was to conduct an extracurricular sports program for women following the highest ideals in women’s sports and to promote interest in athletics and good sportsmanship. It was a student-run organization with a faculty advisor that managed the club and intramural sports available to women both on campus and helped promote intercollegiate sports with various other Colleges and Universities and sport organizations. With the first Women’s Varsity athletic teams beginning in 1963, the WRA helped promote, schedule and provided support for the early varsity teams. The WRA continued through the 1976-1977 school year.
The Women’s Athletics Association Records collection includes constitutions, memorandums, handbooks, handwritten notes, manager reports, meeting minutes, and other miscellaneous documents that details the Women’s Athletics Association (WAA), later known as the Women’s Recreation Association (WRA), activities from 1952 to 1977. The organization primarily focused on managing club and intramural sports available to women through various events, games, and tournaments.
The materials concerning managerial reports for sports, such as archery, badminton, basketball, field hockey, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, and volleyball, were issued from 1954 to 1968. These reports include schedules for games, lists of the types of tournaments, and the points scored and rules. Also included for most years are lists of the names of participants as a part of the four official teams: Green Knights, Golden Hearts, Red Dragons, and Blue Falcons. The materials concerning meeting minutes were recorded from 1953 to 1973, with executive board meeting notes being mostly typed, though some are handwritten. Within the WRA Chairman and the WRA Secretary folders is a Board of Representative Handbook for 1966-1967 and 1966-1968, respectively.
These materials show how the WAA/WRA invested time in continuing the interest in women’s sports on campus through events. One event included in this collection is the “WRA Banquets,” held by the Women’s Recreation Association from 1969-1977. These banquets recognized the various intramurals and “All-Star” teams with trophies and presentations of the Massasoit Award. There is also a list of recipients for the Massasoit Award from 1953 to 1974. Related material includes flyers, official invitations, programs, and others. In addition, there is a folder from Dorothy Brown containing materials produced between 1970-1973. Within the folder, the material is divided into five sections by tab dividers: “Current,” “Minutes,” a blank tab, “Constitution,” and “N.E.A.R.F.C.W” (Northeast Athletic & Recreation Federation of College Women). Outside of these sections, in the beginning, is documents, including a fall term schedule for intramural games, a flyer, handwritten notes, revised meeting minutes, and the WRA constitution.
There is also scrapbook that contains newsclippings and photographs of activities thought to be between 1953 and 1956, including articles on Paula Deubel and materials on the Athletic Federation of College Women conference held in 1954.