A couple of years ago I was asked to give a talk about the history of women’s athletics at Rice. That sounded kind of interesting and I didn’t know much about it, so anticipating some enjoyable research I readily agreed. After running into one dead end after another, though, I wound up giving a talk about how, apart from the tennis club, there wasn’t much evidence of women’s athletics at Rice until the 1940s. Ever since this episode I have been assiduously collecting every reference to Rice girls playing sports that I’ve come upon and there actually are quite a few, although they are scattered all over the collections. This is one of the earliest I’ve seen–a 1919 plea for physical training facilities for co-eds:
No pool for girls was forthcoming, of course, nor one for boys either. This was long, long before the era when the comfort and amusement of undergraduates was a primary concern of colleges and universities. It wasn’t until 1950 when the new gym opened that Rice students got their swimming facility. It was, predictably, a huge hit and the girls began holding organized intramural races almost immediately.
I think those must have been Rice-issued swimsuits because I can’t imagine these attractive young women would voluntarily wear such things.