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Senda Berenson Papers, , 1897-1985 (Bulk: (bulk 1897-1915))
2 boxes (.75 linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 42

Abstract:
Director of the Gymnasium and Instructor of Physical Culture, introduced the first rules of women's basketball and organized the first women's college basketball game. Contains biographical articles, news-clippings, notebooks, correspondence, lecture notes, photographs, and published writings.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The records are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the Senda Berenson Papers must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Copyright for official Smith correspondence and documents is owned by the Smith College Archives. Provenance and copyright ownership of personal materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Senda Berenson was born Senda Valvrojenski, March 19, 1868, in Vilna, Lithuania. Berenson trained at the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics and was hired at Smith in January 1892, one month after the game of basketball had been invented by James Naismith at the International YMCA Training School in nearby Springfield, Mass. At Smith, Berenson instituted an effective program of Swedish gymnastics, which was supplemented by organized athletic contests in sports such as volleyball, fencing, field hockey and basketball, all intended to build character in her female students. She believed in strict and careful supervision of all activities and in offering "the most for the most," i.e., including young women of all skill levels in the program rather than devoting her time to a small group of highly skilled students. This philosophy resulted in a policy at Smith College to favor a strong intramural program over interscholastic athletic competition. Berenson extended her missionary-like work in popularizing Swedish gymnastics beyond Smith: first with students and faculty at Northampton High School, and later with female patients at the Northampton Lunatic Hospital.

Shortly after her appointment at Smith, Berenson read about the new sport of basketball and visited with Naismith to learn more about it. On March 22, 1893, she organized the first women's collegiate basketball game when her Smith freshmen and sophomores played against one another. Influenced by the thinking of her time about women's physical limitations, she soon adapted the rules to avoid the roughness of the men's game. Berenson's rules were first published in 1899. Two years later, she became editor of A. G. Spalding's first Women's Basketball Guide, which further spread her version of basketball for women. In 1985 Berenson and Margaret Wade were the first two women elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

In 1911, after marrying Herbert Vaughan Abbott, a professor of English at Smith, Berenson resigned from her position at the College. She remained as editor of the Women's Basketball Guide and as chair of the U.S. Women's Basketball Committee for six years. Her husband died in 1929. In 1934 she moved to Santa Barbara, Calif. to live with her sister. Berenson died in February 16, 1954.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Senda Berenson Papers cover 1897-1985. The majority of the materials are from 1897-1915. The items include biographical articles, news-clippings, notebooks, correspondence, lecture notes, photographs, and published writings. Notable people with whom Berenson corresponded include L. Clark Seelye and Dorothy Ainsworth, as well as several Smith graduates. Of special importance are Berenson's lecture notes and speeches, which provide insight into her pioneering work on athletics for women, especially basketball.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The records are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the Senda Berenson Papers must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Copyright for official Smith correspondence and documents is owned by the Smith College Archives. Provenance and copyright ownership of personal materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Senda Berenson Papers, Box #, Smith College Archives.

Additional Formats

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available on the Web as part of the Five College Archives Digital Access Project.

History of the Collection

The Senda Berenson Papers were donated over a period of time to the Smith College Archives from a variety of sources.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: nyoung@smith.edu
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/archives
Language
English
Sponsor
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
Series I: Biography



General:


Box 679: folder 1
Edith Naomi Hill. "Senda Berenson, Director of Physical Education at Smith College 1892-1911," Research Quarterly, Pioneer Women in Physical Education, pp. 658-65
1941, Oct


Leather-bound notebook of poems and songs
n. d.


News-clippings concerning basketball and theater
1893-1967, n. d.


Basketball Hall of Fame:


Box 679: folder 2
News-clipping and program of enshrinement dinner
1985


Correspondence re-induction
1970-71


News-clippings & Physical Training:


Box 679: folder 3
Elizabeth Paine. "Physical Training at Women's Colleges - Smith," The Illustrated Sporting News, pp. 3-4, 17
1904, June 4


"College Girl from West Better Athlete than Eastern Sister"
1907, Feb 10


"A Pioneer in Swedish Gymnastics in the U.S.A.," Husmodern (with transcript translation)
1922


Capsule biography for thesis by Agnes Stillman (Smith '71)
1971, May

Box 679: folder 4
Series II: Correspondence, Incoming



Baldwin, Ruth (Bowles)
n. d.

Box 679: folder 5
Binyon, Laurence
n. d.

Box 679: folder 6
Bridges, Robert
1900

Box 679: folder 7
Brooks, Phillips
n. d.

Box 679: folder 8
Burton, Marion LeRoy
1911

Box 679: folder 9
Campbello, Salone di
n. d.

Box 679: folder 10
Carmen, Bliss
n. d.

Box 679: folder 10a
Gardner, Isabella
1911, May 28

Box 679: folder 11
Hill, J. R.
1904, Oct 5

Box 679: folder 12
Hitchcock, E.
1908, n. d.

Box 679: folder 13
Holden, Frances Steele (Smith '19)
1934, Jun 22

Box 679: folder 14
Marks, Josephine Peabody
1910, Apr 10

Box 679: folder 15
St. Louis Exposition
1904, Dec 3

Box 679: folder 16
Seelye, L. Clark
1897-1911

Box 679: folder 17
Thompson, Helen E.
1919, Jun 11

Box 679: folder 18
Series III: Correspondence, Outgoing



Ainsworth, Dorothy Sears
1952

Box 679: folder 19
Grierson, Margaret (Storrs) (Smith '22)
1947-53

Box 679: folder 20
Miss Mitchell
1897, Mar 1

Box 679: folder 21
Seamans, Dorothy (Smith '14)
n. d.

Box 679: folder 22
Sleeper, Henry Dike
n. d.

Box 679: folder 23
Miss Spencer
1911, Feb 15

Box 679: folder 24
True, Moses
1906, Dec 11

Box 679: folder 25
Series IV: Lecture Notes



Basketball rules, posture, self control, and health
1905-06, n. d.

Box 679: folder 26
Series V: Photographs



Face
1897, n. d.

Box 679: folder 27
Profile
1897, n. d.

Box 679: folder 28
Groups
1897, n. d.

Box 679: folder 29
Dressed in Gym Suit
1892-95, n. d.

Box 679: folder 30
Standing
1897-1950's,n. d.

Box 679: folder 31
Series VI: Writings



Senda Berenson. "The Significance of Basketball for Women," Basketball for Women, edited by Senda Berenson, pp. 31-46
1903

Box 680: folder 32
Spalding's Official Basket Ball Guide for Women, edited by Senda Berenson
1913

Box 680: folder 33
Speeches:
1915, n. d.

Box 680: folder 34
Basketball for Women, notes



Necessity of Sleep, notes



Physical Training, text



Working Girls, notes



Speech notes, typed copy


Box 680: folder 35

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Basketball--United States--History--Sources.
  • Berenson, Senda, 1868-1954.
  • Smith College--Basketball.
  • Smith College--Faculty.
  • Smith College--Sports.


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