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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Girls' Hoops: 1917

Girls' Hoops: 1917

Washington, D.C., circa 1917. "Friends School. Girls basketball team." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5


A lot of the best-known women's rights workers of the 19th and early 20th century were Quakers. One look at this group of basketball aficionados and you just know a lot of 'em were gonna grow up to make some societally challenging trouble in the spirit of Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, and Alice Paul.

Friends School

Very interesting pic. I write mysteries set in the 1920s, and my current work-in-progress is set at the Friends School, Saffron Walden, in England (which I attended, though not in the 20s). I was trying to find out what the girls would have worn for sports back then. When I first went, we had foul divided skirts of heavy material (serge?) down to our knees. By the time I left, we wore cotton shorts mid-thigh. I wonder if things changed as drastically between 1917 and 1926, or if they were ever just the same in England as in the U.S.

Fine examples

No misses among these misses!


The more I look at that row of girls with the voluminous knee pants and folded arms, the more I expect them to erupt into a spirited Cossack dance.

Now and then

>>These girls radiate more self-assurance than a hundred of their contemporaries could muster.

Seriously? If you were to compare a girls' basketball team from today to this, I think you would find girls today to be at least this confident.

Considering the advancement of women today in politics, sports, academics, the workplace, I think you drastically underestimate young women of today.

Lone Star Yankee

Sorry to burst your patronizing bubble, but women didn't wear bras in 1917 - they wore a chemise or camisole.

And if you've paid any attention at all to the photographs here - you'll know that both boys and girls learned homemaking skills. War veterans knitted as therapy!!

Your misogynistic views are more out of date than the uniforms in this photo.


There isn't a face in the bunch that wouldn't look just as at home having iPod buds in their ears.... How amazingly current those faces are!

Mac, Mac, Mac - - - -

let go of the feminist politics for a minute and just enjoy the nice pictures from another time, when girls wore bras and learned how to make good homes for their families.

Sweet Girl

The young woman at the far right is just too nice not to let a smile slip through.

Game Face

Each girl with her arms crossed the same way, must have been planned. If you’re going to take a picture of the team, you might as well make it look as intimidating as possible – as possible as one can with such charming outfits.

I mean, the girls would hardly intimidate their opponents if they if they were curtsying with cheery, beautiful smiles. These girls have their "game face" on.

"Privileged young women"

>> This photo is of privileged young women attending an exclusive private school. The confidence they exude is in the knowledge that they're so much better than everyone else

What a ridiculous and unfounded generalization. My grandmother, a lovely person who was a Quaker missionary in China for 20 years, graduated from Friends. I can assure you she hardly considered herself "better than everyone else."

Women's Basketball

I'm both a college basketball fan and a supporter of the general advancement of women in today's world. In my junior/senior high days (late 1950s/early 60s), girls' basketball was played with designated offensive and defensive players who were not allowed to cross mid-court. Also, no more than three dribbles before a pass. Translation: it was tough for them to break a sweat. This photo is of privileged young women attending an exclusive private school. The confidence they exude is in the knowledge that they're so much better than everyone else, not in their athletic prowess. Truly athletic women were not even assumed to be able to run a Marathon distance (26 miles, 385 yards) until Joanie Benoit showed the world what a real woman is in the L.A. Olympics. Yeah, that recent.


I am genuinely afraid of what they might have hidden in their pseudo-skirts...

Looking back

How helpful have the equal rights and feminist movements "really been" to women today? Well, when this photo was taken, these girls' mothers weren't allowed to vote.

Hellooo, sailor!

I wish the middy blouse would make a comeback. How could you put on one of those things and not feel ready to take on the world?


You're kidding yourself.

Friends School

Is this the same as the Sidwell Friends School in DC that the Obama girls are now attending?

[It is indeed. Although the location may have changed. - Dave]


did they ever play basketball in those voluminous bloomers? The young lady on the far right looks like a mischief-maker.

More middys

More of those middy blouses and some fabulous bloomers. Forget oversize pants that hang down on the hips to show boxer shorts. Let somebody bring back this hybrid of knickers, capris and skirts.

Every girl in this photo actually looks nice in them. But those goofy knots in the huge scarves have to go. Imagine trying to play basketball with them flapping around while you pivot and run.

MC Hammer Pants

Do they have their skirts rolled up in their stockings, or are those poofy pants they are wearing?

I can't imagine playing basketball with either.


Those girls look seriously badass! The second girl from the left looks like she's about this close to opening a can of whoop ass. Too awesome!

Goofy Noise

I remember the goofy noise my corduroy pants made when walking around as a kid. I wonder what sort of noise emitted from the puffy pants as these girls ran up and down the court...probably like a flag waving in the wind.

That is an impressive looking bunch!

They all look exceptionally confident.

How far have our girls come?

A beautiful shot of confident young ladies. I sometimes wonder how helpful the equal rights and feminist movements have really been to our young women today, so many of whom seem obsessed with their appearance and popularity. These girls radiate more self-assurance than a hundred of their contemporaries could muster.

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