chapter  12
Women First revisited
Recent historical research and perspectives on US physical education
ByMartha H. Verbrugge
Pages 20

The historical understanding of women's physical education has changed considerably since the publication of Sheila Fletcher's book in 1984. This chapter explores Fletcher's key points, describing how work between the late 1980s and early 2000s both adopted and modified her interpretation, and illustrates these debts and transformations with examples from research on the history of women's physical education in the United States. Inspired by feminist scholarship, black history, queer theory, cultural studies, postmodernism, and other innovative fields, historians of women's sports and physical education posed new questions and explored alternate perspectives. The author's research on the United States illustrates the new layers of data and analysis that emerged during the 1990s and early 2000s. Early historical studies concluded that physical education for girls and women in the US, during the first half of the twentieth century was quite traditional and uniform.