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Joseph Raycroft Papers

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Held at: Princeton University Library: University Archives [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: University Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Raycroft, Joseph Edward, 1867-

Known to Princetonians as the founding father of intramural sports at Princeton, Joseph E. Raycroft was born on November 15, 1867, in Williamstown, Vermont, to William Raycroft and Eliza Kelty. He studied at Worcester Academy in Worchester, Massachusetts, from 1888-1892, where he served as a physical training and athletics instructor while a student. He entered the University of Chicago with the first graduating class of 1896 and earned his M.D. from Rush Medical College in 1899. That same year he married Sarah Elizabeth Butler. They had two children: Myla and Chauncey W.

Throughout his undergraduate years and while studying for his medical degree, Raycroft taught classes for the University of Chicago's Department of Hygiene. He was promoted to an assistant professorship in 1899, to a full professorship in 1904, and for a period of twelve years was the University of Chicago's medical director.

Raycroft became Princeton University's chairman of health and physical education at the retirement of the first director, George Goldie in 1911. Raycroft held this post continuously until his retirement in 1936, when he was awarded emeritus status.

Raycroft made many important contributions to Princeton, including the development of a comprehensive student health program, the construction of the new Isabella McCosh Infirmary, and broadening the participation in intramural athletics to include some ninety per cent of Princeton's student body. Before Raycroft's arrival, Princeton athletics were considered a small part of a student's life, and sports participation at Princeton was limited to the athletes on the University's competitive intercollegiate teams. Raycroft's fundamental goal was to encourage the average student to take part in these sports without forcing him to belong to the intercollegiate teams.

Raycroft applied the same philosophy to the training camp programs he established during the First World War. From 1917 to 1919, Raycroft served on the athletic division of the war department's Committee on Training Camp Activities (also known as the Fosdick Commission) named after its chairman, Raymond B. Fosdick. The goal of the commission was to ensure that soldiers' morale was kept high, whether they were stationed at home or abroad. It sponsored activities that promoted health, athletics, and recreation in order to "conserve the vitality of the men." Raycroft introduced boxing and various other competitive sports to replace long-used calisthenics drills.

Because of Raycroft's success with creating and developing various sports for use in the training camps, his book Mass Physical Training was adopted as the official manual of physical training in the Army. (He later served as chairman of the International Sporting Club where he applied those rules developed in the camps for boxing to the development of New York state's boxing laws.) Raycroft was said by many to head the largest athletic program in the world's history with the largest coaching staff that was ever assembled. His training service continued into the Second World War, when he served on the Council of Physical Training program for navy air cadets.

In addition to his national and civic duties, Raycroft devoted his life to the development of a personal library of rare books, prints, and memorabilia in the fields of medicine and sports. In May 1944, the old University Gymnasium, with his library in it, was destroyed by fire. Personal friends, Princeton alumni, and other academic institutions and organizations came together to donate some 1500 volumes to replace Raycroft's library. In 1948, Raycroft was honored with the opening of the Joseph E. Raycroft Library in Princeton's Herbert Lowell Dillon Gymnasium.

Raycroft served on many committees and associations for the study of student health and mental well being, and intercollegiate athletics. He was a member of the 1932 and 1936 Olympic Committees and in the latter year accompanied the American Olympic team to Berlin as vice president of the American Olympic Association. In 1941, he became vice president for the American Sports Federation. He also served as president of the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League and chairman of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's rules committee. He was a medical consultant for New Jersey's Department of Institutions and Agencies, a member of the New Jersey's Committee on Mental Hygiene, and the president of the Board of Mangers of the New Jersey State Hospital for the Insane. In 1934, Dr. Raycroft received an honorary degree in physical education from Springfield College and was awarded a citation for public service by the University of Chicago in 1941. Dr. Raycroft died in Trenton, New Jersey, on September 30, 1955.

The Joseph E. Raycroft papers document both Raycroft's personal and professional activities, with the bulk of documentation focusing on Raycroft's role in developing training camp activities for the army in World War I and the navy in World War II, as well as the fire that destroyed his personal library. Also included is material documenting Raycroft's involvement in the 1932-1936 Olympic Committees. The records contain correspondence, manuscripts of lectures, notes, writings, printed material, press releases, photographs, and memorabilia.

Please see series descriptions in contents list for additional information about individual series.

The faculty file of Joseph E. Raycroft and Alexander Leitch's A Princeton Companion were consulted during the preparation of the biographical note.

The Raycroft Papers were previously held in the Raycroft Library, which was dismantled in August or September 1972. Trophies and related material associated with Princeton athletics were given to the athletic department.

The Joseph E. Raycroft Papers, including various medals, memorabilia, and photographs were received by Firestone Library, Manuscript Division around September, 1972.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection was processed by Rosalba Varallo with the assistance of Page Dykstra '06 in May 2005. Finding aid written by Rosalba Varallo in May 2005.

Appraisal has been conducted in accordance with Mudd Manuscript Library guidelines.

Publisher
University Archives
Finding Aid Author
Rosalba Varallo
Finding Aid Date
2005
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. If copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers will not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with non-commercial use of materials from the Mudd Library. For materials where the copyright is not held by the University, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. If you have a question about who owns the copyright for an item, you may request clarification by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.

Collection Inventory

Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by topic and chronologically within each folder. Topics within this series are organized into three categories: personal correspondence, professional career, and writings.

Scope and Contents

The Biographical series contains correspondence, memoranda, lecture notes, printed material, press releases, reports, and other material relating to Raycroft's career as an instructor in the physical education department at the University of Chicago and his position as chairman of the Health and Physical Education Department at Princeton University. This series also includes material documenting Raycroft's role as president of the Board of Managers of the New Jersey State Hospital for the Insane, as well as his involvement in various associations and committees, including his membership in the 1932 and 1936 American Olympic Committees. Also included in this series is a copy of the earliest radiograph (x-ray) used for medical diagnosis taken in 1897 by Raycroft and Professor Michelson, as well as written reports on physical education within high schools and universities and the development of intramural athletics at Princeton University. Lecture notes on topics such as Using and Misusing our Minds, A Paying Investment and a lecture syllabus on hygiene in schools can be found in the writings section. Various printed material such as the Boston YMCA gymnasium manuals, notes, and pamphlets on recommended weekly exercises and instructions for those exercises also be found in the writings section. Photographs and memorabilia relating to the Olympics may be found in series 4.

Physical Description

3 boxes

Physical Description

1 box

Physical Description

1 box

1911-1938, 1911-1938. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1940-1943, 1940-1943. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1944, 1944. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1945, 1945. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1946-1947, 1946-1947. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1948-1950, 1948-1950. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Garrett, Robert, 1912-1950. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

2 boxes

Certificates, Clippings, and Diplomas, 1898-1952. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Chicago, University of, 1892-1953. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Department of Physical Education at Princeton, 1909-1948. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

First X-Rays, 1949. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Life Saving Society, 1906-1945. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

New Jersey Hospital Board of Trustees, Meetings and Minutes, 1949-1950. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Olympic Committee, 1919-1952. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

2 boxes

General, 1909-1944. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Instinct and Habit: Chapter Three, "Human Nature and the Group", undated. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Journals for Italian Medical Schools, 1945-1946. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Lectures, 1910-1925. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Mass Physical Training Manual and Correspondence, 1919-1942. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Printed Material, 1888-1922. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by topic chronologically within each folder.

Scope and Contents

The Library series consists of general correspondence, newspaper clippings, catalog lists, and press-releases about Raycroft's Library as well as condolence letters sent to him after the 1944 fire that destroyed the library. Donations made by friends of Raycroft, Princeton alumni, academic institutions, and associations which helped rebuild Raycroft's library in Dillon Gym are documented in the series. Of note is a letter written by Robert Garrett documenting his donation of memorabilia from the first Olympics including two 'original' discuses to the Raycroft collection. Also of interest is material related to photostat copies of the William Yarrow mural produced for the walls outside the restored Raycroft library in Dillon Gymnasium. (The photostat copies can be found in series 4.) Some correspondence regarding the fire can be located in the correspondence section of series 1.

Physical Description

2 boxes

Catalog Lists, 1942-1950. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

1 box

1924-1941, 1924-1941. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1942-1943, 1942-1943. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1944, 1944. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1945-1946, 1945-1946. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1947-1953, 1947-1953. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Gifts and Givers, 1938-1944. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Yarrow, William, Murals, 1935-1992. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by topic and chronologically within each folder.

Scope and Contents

The Physical Education During Wartime series contains correspondence, memoranda, pamphlets, journals, and reports related to Raycroft's service on the war department's Commission on Training Camp Activities during World War I. After the armistice was signed, both Raycroft and Raymond Fosdick were directed by Secretary of War Newton Baker to survey the morale of the American Expeditionary Forces in France and to compare it to the morale of British, German, and Japanese soldiers. Also of note is the report written by Fosdick on the problem of prostitution for the American Expeditionary Forces. The adoption of Raycroft's Mass Physical Training as the United States Army's official manual of physical training is also documented in this series, as is Raycroft's role on the Council of Physical Training's program for navy air cadets during World War II.

Physical Description

1 box

Physical Description

1 box

Physical Description

1 box

1917-1918, 1917-1918. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1919, 1919. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1920-1923, 1920-1923. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1939-1940, 1939-1940. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1941-1942, 1941-1942. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Britain, Germany, and Japan, 1942-1944. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Camp Benning, Georgia, 1918-1942. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by topic.

Scope and Contents

The Photographs and Memorabilia series contains tourist photographs of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, including images of Adolph Hitler and American athlete Jesse Owens with German athlete Lutz Long. The series also includes the 1936 Berlin Olympic medal worn by Raycroft during the games, postcards of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, and various photographs of the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Memorabilia including photostats of William Yarrow's Mural located in Dillon Gymnasium, a metal plaque presented to Dr. Raycroft for outstanding service by the University of Chicago, and a photo album of the Athens Olympics in 1896 which was given to the Raycroft Library by Charles Caldwell in 1950, is also present in the series.

Physical Description

3 boxes

Physical Description

3 boxes

Album: Athens in 1896 presented to the Raycroft Library by Charles Caldwell, 1950, 1896. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

1 box

American Olympic Committee in Tokyo, Japan, 1938. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Executive Committee of the American Olympic Association, 1938. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Unidentified, 1911. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Berlin Olympics, 1936. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Helsinki Olympics, 1952. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia, 1920-1942. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Olympic Village, Undetermined Location, undated. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Raycroft, Joseph E., Building, New Jersey State Hospital, Trenton, 1945. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Ritchie, Willie, Autographed Photograph, 1942. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Yarrow, William, Photostats of Mural, 1935. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Physical Description

1 box

Berlin Olympic Pin, 1936. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Plaque (given by Minor "L" Men of 1910 to 1911), 1911, 1910. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Print, Suggest