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Yale Crew: 1913

Yale Crew: 1913

June 1913. New Haven, Connecticut. "Yale Freshman 8." A motley crew and its coxswain. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.


Best Exercise!

I was just on my Concept II from the 80's. These guys are a testament to my belief that rowing is one of the best exercises around.

The Men of the Freshman Eight

The crew is posed in rowing position.

• Walter Joseph Stauffer (bow)
• James Rhodes Sheldon (2)
• Albert Dillon Sturtevant (3)
• Alfred von der Ropp (4)
• Stanhope Wood Nixon (5)
• John Bainbridge Fitzpatrick (6)
• Seth Low II (7)
• Robert Clark Gilfillan (stroke, captain)
• Allan McLane, Jr. (coxswain; seated)

If you imagine close scrutiny of undergraduate sport to be an invention of a later age, their story is worth a look. The meddlesome activity of alumni -- among them Payne Whitney and Averell Harriman -- makes the antics of those who torment today's athletic directors look like small potatoes.

The picture was taken at the Yale training house at Gale's Ferry, where Yale took it on the chin for the sixth straight year in the annual Yale-Harvard regatta on the Thames. The freshman eight lost their race, but alone among those swept to defeat, earned praise for their performance. Several members would feature in the ups and downs of the varsity eight in the years that followed, including the 1914 crew that ended Harvard's run.

The backgrounds and lives of the men in the photo are fascinating, representative of terrific concentration of privilege and influence. Perhaps they can be shared in a future post.

V. Crew

Class of 1913 himself, Porter wrote several Yale fight songs while there. He debuted "I Want to Row on the Crew" at a 1914 Yale show and later dropped it into his Broadway smash "Anything Goes":

I want to row on the crew, Mama,
That's the thing I want to do, Mama.
To be known throughout Yale as I walk about it,
Get a boil on my tail and then talk about it.
I'd like to be a big bloke, Mama,
And learn the new Argentine stroke, Mama.
You'll see your slim son
Putting crimps in the Crimson,
When I row on the Varsity Crew.

A male bastion

You can bet that if there was even the slightest chance of a woman being around, they wouldn't be out rowing in their underpants. Check out some of the other rowing pics here on shorpy, from the days of the all-male Ivy League. Crew was basically the frat house moved outdoors into an eight-man shell.

Put me on the fainting couch

and fetch the smelling salts.

Please don't

grow up. I also love the wit of my fellow Shorpy devotees! Their clever commentary makes the incredible photos themselves even more enjoyable.

Re: Grow up People

I'm not sure you appreciate your own double entendre in your comment title.

Personally, I have trouble determining what I like more; the pictures or the comments. One of my favorites is this one.

Frankly, I'm shocked that no one has taken a swing at Dave's softball note of the coxswain.

I am sure that's not really Yale

If it were, they'd have long since decamped to form an a cappella singing group.

Grow up People

I am surprised by the mentality and comments of the viewers of this website. There are more 12 year old girls interested in historic photography than I thought!


If the picture was taken in 1913, why does the fellow sitting down have 1916 so largely prominent on his shirt?

[Here's the deal. When you see a college student wearing a shirt with "1916" or "2014" on it, it's not like they're wearing a calendar to remind them what year it is. The year shows what graduating class they're in. Our freshman rowers here started school in the fall of 1912, and so are in the Class of 1916. - Dave]

An impressive display

of manhoods.

Socks and Shoes

I found the footwear to be of most interest in relation to each guy.

I didn't realize

security checks were that strict in those days.

Someone Call Madeline Kahn

Yes! No, no, no, no, no, no. Yes! No, no, no, no, no, no...

The ocean was angry that day, my friend

And apparently cold, too.

Buy my video

Looks like these guys could cash in on the washboard abs craze.


Interesting swimsuits. I'm glad they fell out of fashion!

So it's true what they say

about the size of Yale's endowment.

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