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Bedford Physical Education Archive

The University of Bedfordshire holds a unique collection of archive materials on the development of women’s physical education and women’s sport during the twentieth century.

The University is keen to promote and raise awareness of the archive amongst local schools not only for its value as a tool for learning about women’s physical education and sport during the twentieth century but also as a resource for engaging with primary source material.  To this end it is seeking to develop a bank of topics, resources and activities for use in schools.  Some themes which might be considered include:

  • the changing physical education curriculum;
  • the role of physical education in shaping the nation’s health;
  • women pioneers in physical education and dance, e.g. Margaret Stansfeld, founder of the Bedford Physical Training College; Ruby Ginner, modern dance

Documenting the development of Bedford Physical Training College from its foundation in 1903 through

Bedford Physical Training College students at Commercial Road Swimming Baths, c.1903-1905 (Ref. BPEA/PH/1/1) Copyright: Bedford Physical Education Archive, University of Bedfordshire

Bedford Physical Training College students at Commercial Road Swimming Baths, c.1903-1905 (Ref. BPEA/PH/1/1)
Copyright: Bedford Physical Education Archive, University of Bedfordshire

to its absorption into the Bedford College of Higher Education in 1976, the archive contains a wide variety of records, including syllabuses and examination papers charting the changing curriculum, reports submitted by the College in response to various Government initiatives which illustrate the contribution of the College in shaping the role of physical education in the nation’s health, students’ photograph albums showing life at the College as it used to be, oral history recordings from students and staff reflecting on how the College influenced their life and career, and some artefacts, including uniforms.

Information on the history of Bedford Physical Education College can be found here:

http://lrweb.beds.ac.uk/libraryservices/special-collections/bedford-pea/bpea-history

Archives enable all of us to discover the stories, the facts, the places and the people that are at the heart of our communities.  Without the Bedford Physical Education Archive (BPEA) we wouldn’t know of the contribution made by Bedford Physical Training College to the care and comfort of soldiers stationed in the town during the First World War, we wouldn’t have an insight into the lives of students and staff, and we wouldn’t be able to explore how physical education in schools has changed over the years.

Physical Education class at Goldington Road School, c.1942-1945 (Ref. BPEA/PH/1/52) Copyright: Bedford Physical Education Archive, University of Bedfordshire

Physical Education class at Goldington Road School, c.1942-1945 (Ref. BPEA/PH/1/52)
Copyright: Bedford Physical Education Archive, University of Bedfordshire

The creation of ‘Story Boxes’ containing items relating to a central theme, story, place or person have proven popular in engaging schoolchildren with archives.  Ideally, the contents allow children to build a story or a picture in their minds and evoke the sense of ‘journey’ that many archive users reference as one of the joys of archives.  A Story Box could be developed for use in schools which might contain items relating to physical education in schools in the 1900s, thereby introducing young people to sporting tales through key records and artefacts from the BPEA collections.

The University would welcome contact from schools keen to explore how material from the BPEA may be used to support learning.  In the first instance, enquiries should be addressed to the BPEA Archivist, Karen Davies, at bpea@beds.a.c.uk

 

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