Sheila Fletcher’s Research for 'Women First: The Female Tradition in English Physical Education 1880-1980'

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1979 Dr Sheila Fletcher was commissioned by the Committee of the Bedford Physical Education Old Students' Association to write a book on the development of the Bedford College of Physical Education against the background of the history of the profession of teaching physical education as a whole.

The 1979 Annual Report of the Bedford Physical Education Old Students' Association carried an appeal from Dr Fletcher requesting members to contact her if they had personal reminiscences of Margaret Stansfeld, or if their first teaching post after leaving the College was not in a grammar or public school, or if they could lend College magazines, programmes, etc. In the course of her research Dr Fletcher gathered responses to questionnaires from Bedford students and staff and also conducted a number of interviews.

The outcome of the research was published in Women First: The Female Tradition in English Physical Education 1880-1980 (1984), a study of the dominance achieved by women in the field of physical education in England from the late-nineteenth century and how they lost out to men in this field after the Second World War. The book looked at the development of the physical training colleges pioneered by women with particular reference to the history of Bedford College of Physical Education.

See HRef 4/1 for details of recordings of interviews conducted by Sheila Fletcher.