Not Al Diamonds Are Created Equal : The Transition from Women's Baseball to Women's Softball in Midwestern Colleges, 1902-1955
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The forces of culture and gender at work in the Midwest in the first half of the twentieth century, and their relation to women's baseball, can only be understood by examining when and how colleges presented women's participation in both baseball and softball. Starting with a survey of the history of women in baseball at the national level to show the place that women's baseball held in American culture by the turn of the twentieth century, the thesis will then explore Midwestern history and identity, and the cultures surrounding co-educational Midwestern colleges. The thesis will then consist of three parts that parallel the collegiate shift from baseball to softball: the Midwest as an initial stronghold of women's collegiate baseball from the 1900s to the 1930s; the transitory period from the 1930s to the 1940s; and the permanent switch to softball in the 1940s. How changing notions of gender and opinions of female athleticism catalyzed and facilitated these changes will be focused on throughout the thesis.
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