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   from the issue of March 8, 2007

From the Archives

Ina E. Gittings

UP AND OVER - Ina Gittings (left) and an unidentified woman compete in an annual women's track meet.
UP AND OVER - Ina Gittings (left) and an unidentified woman compete in an annual women's track meet.

Editor's Note -In celebration of Women's History Month, "From the Archives" is featuring the university's women's physical education program during the month of March. The program was a leader among the nation's colleges and universities as NU was the first school in the nation to grant both a college degree and a professional teaching certificate in physical education. The physical education departments for women and men merged in September 1973.

A Wilber, Neb., native, Ina Estelle Gittings earned a bachelor of arts degree in physical education for women from the University of Nebraska in 1906.

Gittings began a career as a physical education teacher at a high school in Lead, S.D. She returned to the University of Nebraska after one semester, serving as a physical education instructor from 1906 to 1909. Gittings served as chairman of the department of physical education for women during her tenure, however records are not clear as to the exact years. She was director of women's gymnasium from 1907 to 1916.

During Gittings' NU tenure, interclass basketball replaced the intercollegiate program and a departmental track and field meet became an annual event.

In a 1912 paper to the ACA, included in the University Archives, Gittings reviewed the "needs of a university girl." She reported a shortage of space for both women and men on City Campus - noting that seven "toilets are practically the only ones used" by 1,300 women students. Her final recommendation was for the creation of a Women's Building to provide women, "the proper facilities for health, culture and study on the campus."

The report drew a positive, hand written response from a Sarka Brbkova of the Department of Slavonic Languages and Literature, but drew criticism from chancellor S. Avery.

Gittings left NU in 1916 to become the director of physical education at Montana University. In 1918, she aided the World War I effort by serving in the U.S. Army medical department as a physiotherapist at Walter Reed Hospital. In 1919, Gittings went to Turkey as a relief worker with the U.S. Near East Relief Organization, helping rehabilitate Armenian refugees.

Gittings received a masters of arts degree from the University of Arizona in 1925 and engaged in additional graduate work at Columbia University in 1929-1930. She joined the University of Arizona faculty as the institution's first director of physical education for women, a post she served until her retirement in 1955.

Under Gittings' guidance, the women's physical education department at the University of Arizona was developed into modern status. Gittings' training produced a number of tennis, golf and swimming standouts.

Gittings died at 81 in 1966. Ina Road, north of Tucson, Ariz., was named after Gittings. The road is located in an area of Pima County where Gittings homesteaded 480 acres of land from 1929 to 1933.

This is a regular feature of the Scarlet. The image was provided by the University Archives. Submit items to or call 472-8515.



From the Archives