Beyond the Fair

Harvard Summer School of Physical Training (1897); Sargent stands at the top of the stairs, wearing a suit jacket.

Although much of Sargent’s work focused on training men at Harvard, largely elite, white, New Englanders, he also believed that all people would benefit from his physical training program. In 1887 Sargent founded the Summer School of Physical Training, which admitted both white and African American men and women. Booker T. Washington attended the school’s first session. Individuals who took the course often started their own physical education programs at other institutions, spreading Sargent’s system of training across the country and adapting it to fit the needs of their students. Anita Turner, one of the first African American women to graduate from the Summer School, introduced physical education in Washington D.C.’s black schools. Maud May Babcock taught at the Sargent school in 1892 and later founded the physical education program at University of Utah, becoming its first female professor. 

 

Image courtesy of Harvard University Archives