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Students Play Ball Game at Progressive School in Northampton MA

Salience Noteworthy
City/State/Country: Northampton, MA, United States
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Juvenile

[A, B] In their recollections during the 1880s, John Murray Forbes and George Cheyne Shattuck describe playing ball during the years 1823 to 1828 at the Round Hill School in Northampton MA. This progressive school for young boys reflected the goals of its co-founders, Joseph Green Cogswell and George Bancroft; in addition to building a gymnasium, the first US school to do so, Round Hill was one of the very first schools to incorporate physical education into its formal curriculum.


[C] In 1825 Carl Beck, Latin and gymnastic instructor at Round Hill School in Northampton, Massachusetts, had translated F. L. Jahn’s Deutche Turnkunst (1816).  Jahn had mentored the Turnerbund, a movement devoted to gymnastics.  According to Beck’s original preface, “[T]hose who take an interest in the cause would be pleased to acquaint themselves with the exertions of Gutsmuths . . .  years before Jahn came forward.”  (Gutsmuths’ book on games provided David Block with the 1796 rules and diagram of a game called “Englische baseball,” in his 2005 Baseball before We Knew It.) 

Round Hill School is renowned as the first school in the nation to include physical education in its curriculum.  Translating Jahn, Beck wrote that in “games to be played without the precinct of the gymnasium, playing ball is very much to be commended.”  Tellingly, where Beck inserted “playing ball,” Jahn himself recommended “the German ball game” (also in Gutsmuths and Block).  Beck, however, changed the “German ball game” to “ball-playing” to suit his American audience.  Also, given that the boys of Round Hill came from across the nation, Ball acknowledged regional variations:  “The many variations in different parts, are altogether unessential and a matter of choice.”  Ball-playing, Beck wrote, “unites various exercises: throwing, striking, running and catching.” 


[A] Forbes was writing his recollections in 1884, as reported in Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Sarah Forbes Hughes, editor [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1899], vol. 1, page 43.

[B] Shattuck is quoted in Edward M. Hartwell, Physical Training in American Colleges and Universities [GPO, 1886], page 22.

 [C] Primary source: Carl Beck, Treatise on Gymnastics Taken Chiefly from the German of F. L. Jahn (Northampton, Mass., 1828).







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Are any reports available on the rules of the game as played at Round Hill?

Beck didn't give the game a particular name?

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Submitted by Brian Turner
Submission Note Emails, 7/16/2004 and 7/23/2013


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