Who is your favorite female athlete? Why?
According to the article, little is known about New York's female Giants baseball team because few of their games were publicized. If you were a reporter back then, what questions would you ask the players? What would you like people to know about the team?
Based on what you know about the late 1890s and early 1900s, are you surprised to learn that the "Bloomer Girls" typically challenged local men's teams to baseball games? Why or why not?
As the article reflects, the first women who played baseball were called "girls." First, there were the "Bloomer Girls." Then there was the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. But males played in the "men's league." What does it tell you about people's perceptions of women athletes at the time? Do you think those perceptions have changed? Why or why not?
- As a class, create a list of sports that women play. Then brainstorm ideas about what might constitute an important event in women's sports. For example, when did women's gymnastics debut in the Olympics? (1928) When did Title IX become effective? (1972) When did a woman first drive in the Indianapolis 500? (1977)
- Divide the class into pairs or small groups. Assign each pair or group a sport from the list. (If students are working in pairs, there may be some repeats.) Give pairs/groups time to conduct research to identify what they consider to be the most important moments for women in the history of their assigned sport.
- Have students create a timeline tracking the important events they discovered. Then create a master timeline tracking the overall history of women in sports. Instruct students in each pair/group to add their events to the master timeline.
- Once the master timeline is complete, encourage students to select the one event that surprised them the most. Give students time to conduct further research. Encourage them to write an analysis of the event.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
This online exhibit from the National Museum of American History introduces students to the pioneering men and women who dominated their sports; championed their country, race, or sex; and helped others thrive. Both on and off the field, these undaunted individuals broke records for themselves and broke barriers for us all.
Several women’s football leagues formed during the 20th century—one from the 1930s even became a national sensation—but they’re barely remembered today. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to rediscover these women’s football leagues.
You might be surprised to learn that this sport where women now shine was initially seen as solely the purview of male athletes. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn how and why that has changed.
Smithsonian sports curator Eric Jentsch offers a look at Billie Jean King’s legacy beyond the legendary match in this Smithsonian magazine article.
Visitors who saw the Smithsonian’s 2016 Folklife Festival exhibit on Herri kirolak, or Basque rural sports, may have been surprised to see that the majority of athletes competing were women. This was no accident. One of the reasons these female athletes came was to show the world what women can do. Read this festival report to learn more about their endeavors.
In this activity from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students design a bag for athletes, investigate varied sports, interview people involved in varied sports and engage in problem solving as they create a new design.
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn about the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history and the incredible legacy she left behind.
For Women’s History Month and a new Smithsonian-wide initiative, Smithsonian.com has collected representative examples of its coverage of diverse women throughout history. Ultimately, this is a journey not just of American women—but of America herself.