Women's Collegiate Basketball


Women's Collegiate Basketball


Women’s college basketball began in 1892 at Smith’s College in North Hampton, MA. The first intercollegiate women’s basketball game in the United States was played between Stanford University and the University of California Berkley in 1896. The first women’s basketball team at the University of Kentucky [UK] was organized in 1902. By the 1920s, more women and girls around the country were participating in sports than they ever had before. There was change in the air. Women had gotten the vote in 1920. There were the first tobacco ads in 1917 from the American Tobacco Company that were aimed at women, encouraging them to smoke cigarettes to improve their health and weight. It was after WWI, at the start of the 1920s, when women’s fashion was changing to a simpler form (the flapper look). Women’s clothing was moving away from formality and multiple layers, and more toward lower waistlines and rising hemlines. There were concerns voiced about the types of clothing worn by women during sporting events. At the University of Kentucky, in 1923, the basketball regulations were consulted as to whether it might come to pass that women players would wear the same type of uniforms as the men players (see the attached article). It was quickly decided that women could continue to wear their shirts, knee-length bloomers, and stockings that did not reveal the legs (see attached photo image). That decision was only a temporary reprieve; it was agreed that the activities of women needed to be reeled back for the sake of their health and childbearing potential. In 1924, the women’s basketball team at the University of Kentucky had a 10-0 record. The University Senate decided that playing basketball was too strenuous of a sport for women, and a bill was passed that abolished women’s basketball at the University of Kentucky. Women’s basketball was reestablished at UK with varsity status 50 years later in 1974.




1. "A diligent perusal...," Kentucky Kernel, 1923-12-14, p.4
2. "Women's basketball team" 1920 photo image. Louis Edward Nollau Nitrate Photographic Print Collection. University of Kentucky, Special Collections Research Center. Online @ ExploreUK


Reinette Jones, University of Kentucky Librarian & African American Studies Academic Liaison


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“Women's Collegiate Basketball,” KDNP Feature Library, accessed June 18, 2024, https://kdnpx.omeka.net/items/show/20.

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