Harvard’s Hemenway Gymnasium

With a research trip to Cambridge on the agenda for next week, I thought I’d look into the possibility of visiting the site of Constance Applebee’s first demonstration of field hockey in the United States. The consensus of all the accounts I have read is that the demonstration took place in a courtyard behind the Hemenway gymnasium at Harvard university in the summer of 1901.built 1940

A quick look at a current Harvard campus map revealed the good news: there is still a building called the Hemenway Gymnasium in the north yard of the Harvard campus. A quick click on the “details” tab of the map revealed the bad news: it was built in 1940. Continue reading “Harvard’s Hemenway Gymnasium”


Filling In a Minor Detail

In the absence of any living witnesses to Constance Applebee’s introduction of field hockey to the United States in 1901, I find myself compulsively searching for as many contemporary accounts as I can possibly find. Sometimes I’m looking for specific facts, but other times I’m just blindly fishing in the hope that I’ll come across something I didn’t know before.

Continue reading “Filling In a Minor Detail”

Fact-Checking a 113-Year-Old Story

Very soon after beginning my research I came across several versions of the same basic story regarding field hockey’s arrival in the United States. The sport was quite popular among men and women in England during the late 19th Century, the story goes, but it wasn’t played at all in the United States until an English woman named Constance Applebee arrived in 1901. Applebee attended the summer session in physical training at Harvard that year, and staged a field hockey demonstration for her fellow students in a courtyard outside the Hemenway Gymnasium. That fall she was invited to six of the Seven Sisters colleges in the northeastern United States to teach field hockey, at which time it took off as a women’s college sport in this country. Continue reading “Fact-Checking a 113-Year-Old Story”