Skip to main content

Department of Physical Education and Athletics Records

Call Number: UA046

Scope and Contents

The collection contains team files, subject files, photographs and negatives, manager's reports, scrapbooks, playbooks, programs and publications, ephemera, and materials from Jumbo Footprints dating from 1870. These records were created by the athletic department to record sporting events, committee meetings, activities of the year, special events, fundraising activities. The records include rosters, playbooks, mangers reports, and game results for various sports. Also included are summary records of the season events such as annual reports, end of season reports, awards and news releases.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940 -- 1989
  • Creation: 1850 -- 2020



This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list. This collection may require review before it is available for use. Please contact DCA for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Tufts Archival Research Center website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Copyright to all materials created by Tufts University employees in the course of their work is held by the Trustees of Tufts University.

Biographical / Historical

Athletics at Tufts began in the 1860s. Football was introduced in 1863, followed by baseball in 1864. Though athletic teams were organized by students until the early twentieth century, a physical education requirement was put into place in 1865, and the Department of Physical Education was created in the 1880s. The physical education requirement lasted at Tufts until 1975, when it was dropped by vote of the Trustees. During the nineteenth century, Tufts’ athletics suffered from a lack of facilities. Athletics had a casual role on campus during the nineteenth century. Although the Tufts Athletic Association was founded in the fall of 1874, it oversaw only “track and field sports.” During this period, most sports were organized by the students themselves, the equivalent of intramural sports today, and annual Field days served as a venue for competitions. Field sports were abandoned due to lack of interest between 1882-1892, but renewed enthusiasm during the 1890s resulted in new facilities built on campus, including the construction of a track at the Oval, and an indoor running track in Goddard Gymnasium. Throughout the early twentieth century, the Trustees had a conflicted relationship with athletics. Though athletic teams were growing in popularity across college campuses nationwide, the Trustees were wary of the growing “professionalism in athletics.” Fearing the prioritization of campus athletics over Tufts’ academics, the Trustees announced that financial aid could only come from alumni funding, and not from trustee funding. However, as Tufts fell behind in competitions, and as it became clear that smaller colleges such as Tufts could gain recognition through athletics, the idea of “recruiting students competent both on the athletic field and in the classroom” became much more popular. Tufts joined the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States in 1906. The appointment of John Albert Cousens as the president of the university in 1919 was a key influence in the future of Tufts athletics. Cousens, Class of 1898 and a football player during his undergraduate years, was a firm believer in the necessity of athletics during the college years. Cousens also appointed Clarence “Pop” Houston as the first athletic director of Tufts. Houston emphasized the idea of recruiting good athletes to Tufts, as long as they could meet the academic standards. Cousens’ appointment to the presidency was a driving force in aligning the Department of Physical Education more closely with the academic departments; during the 1920s, the physical education graduation requirement was increased, and physical education took place during regular class hours. In 1932, the Trustees named the newly-built gymnasium on College Avenue in his honor, due to his strong beliefs about personal physical fitness and due to his help while fundraising to build the new gymnasium. Athletics during the 1960s and 1970s was characterized by a changing athletic body. Title IX going into effect in 1972 brought about an increase in funding for women’s athletic teams. Tufts also joined the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) in 1971, which reflected its ongoing dedication to operating athletics “in harmony” with the school’s academic standards and philosophies. NESCAC defined several restrictive rules governing Tufts athletics that defined much of its athletic culture, including rules prohibiting off-campus recruiting, limiting the number of “contests” in each sport, and having strict beginning and end dates. As of 2017, Tufts is still a member of the conference.


227.9 Linear Feet (201 boxes and 20 oversize folders)

29 Volumes

1 Artifact(s) (6.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches long by 23.5 inches tall)

31 Audiovisual Object(s)

534 Digital Object(s)

40 Web sites

Language of Materials



This collection contains the records of the Department of Physical Education and Athletics.


This collection is organized into thirteen series: Team files; Subject files; Photographs, negatives, and Scientific Baseball (manual); Videos; Scrapbooks; Playbooks; Programs and publications; Constitution for Government of Athletics and meeting minutes; Ephemera; Jumbo Footprints; Athletics Department web crawls; Unprocessed accessions; and 2017 accessions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred by the Department of Physical Education and Athletics, 2000-2017.

Related Materials

Jumbo Club Records, 1969-2008. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.

Processing Information

This collection is processed, but some materials may be restricted and not available for research. 2017 accessions processed by Leah Edelman in 2017. Materials were placed in archival boxes if the original housing was damaged; received order was maintained. A box-level inventory and series-level description were created and the finding aid was updated at the time of processing. 2023-2024 accessions processed by Kate McNally, Records and Accessioning Archivist, in 2023.

Processing status

This collection is partially processed.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States