A Brief History of the Midwest District

1885 — The Association for the Advancement of Physical Education (AAPE) is founded.

1886 — The name of AAPE is changed to: The American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education (AAAPE).

1903 — Name is again changed to: American Physical Education Association (APEA). This name will be retained until 1937.

As early as 1903, Physical Educators in the Midwest and central regions of the country, lobbied the APEA to hold regular meetings in places other than the East. Another issue of dissent was that virtually all of the leadership was selected from Eastern members, partially because travel was so difficult for the physical educators from the “prairie states”. A third major point of contention was the desire by the professionals from the Central and Midwest to see the organization develop from the grassroots up instead of top down. During this time, there were very strong programs and individuals in or with their roots in what is now the Midwest and Central Districts of AAHPERD:

  • The “Turners” or turnvereins were especially strong in the Midwest with the North American Gymnastic Union located in Milwaukee and later Indianapolis
  • Delphine Hanna at Oberlin, became the 1st woman professor of physical education. She was a pioneer in developing physical education programs for college women. Ms. Hanna was also the instructor of Luther Gulick, Thomas Wood, Jay Nash and Jesse Feiring Williams. Oberlin was the “Mecca” for physical eduation for a number of years.
  • Clark Hetherington at the University of Chicago had studied under Wood while at Stanford (The Oberlin connection).
  • W.J. “Doc” Monilaw, who was both an M.D. and an educator, moved from the U. of Missouri (where he was a pioneer in starting their football team) to the U. of Chicago. Later, becoming a legend in developing recreation programs and officiating high school and college athletics.
  • 1890 — Amos Alonzo Stagg(the Grand Old Man of the Midway) is hired to develop the U. of Chicago football program. He also instructs physical education and participates in the 1st ever 5 on 5 intercollegiate men’s basketball game (1896-between Chicago and Iowa). Stagg had studied at the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) and brought a sound yet innovative background in physical education to the Midwest.

The non-response of the APEA to the “Midwesterners” and the concentration of outstanding physical educators and programs in the central US leads to the founding, in 1912, of a new and separate organization; The Middle West Society of Physical Education and Hygiene (MWSPEH).

1912 — Middle West Society of Physical Education and Hygiene (MWSPEH also called MWS) is organized on April 26-27 at The University of Chicago. It is a separate organization from the American Physical Education Association (APEA). The MWS covers the general geographic area of the current Midwest and Central Districts of AAHPERD plus the western part of Pennsylvania. Founding Fathers of the MWS were: Clark W. Hetherington, M.D.; E.B. DeGroot; J.E. Raycroft, M.D.; W.J. Monilaw, M.D. and Amos Alonzo Stagg. Clark Hetherington is elected the 1st President of the MWS with ‘Doc” Monilaw becoming the 1st secretary of the group which is…“totally independent of the APEA and self-sufficient.”

1917 — Ethel Perrin becomes the 1st female President of the MWS. She invites the APEA to join in a cooperative convention in Chicago (which was accepted for 1919)

1919 — Joint MWS/APEA Convention in Chicago. Deemed a success, this joint effort led to discussion which culminated in the consolidation of the two organizations in 1930. A major issue to be worked out during this time was the desire of the MWS to determine their own representative to the APEA instead of being told whom it would be.

1930 — Middle West Society of PEH, becomes one of four districts of the APEA at the National APEA Convention in Boston. Mabel Lee, MWS President, becomes the 1st Female President of the APEA. One of AAHPERD’s highest awards is named in her honor.

1933 — Middle West District of APEA, splits to become the Midwest & Central Districts of APEA. The Mississippi River is selected as the dividing line. The six MW states are the same as the current ones. Western Pennsylvania goes to the East District. The remaining states of the MWS form what is now the Central District of AAHPERD. Wyoming joins CD in 1935.1937-APEA changes name to: American Association for Health and Physical Education (AAHPE)

1938 — AAHPE changes name to: American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (AAHPER)

1974 — AAHPER changes name to: American Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD)

1970’s — Jean Barkow, physical educator from Milwaukee, develops the idea of a Jump-A-Thon, which will later become JRFH.

1979 — 1st official Jump Rope for Heart event is held in Illinois, Nikki Spencer of Naperville, IL is the coordinator. Also in 1979, AAHPERD changes name to: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD).

2012  — Midwest District celebrates its 100-year history at the Centennial Convention, held in Bloomingdale, IL. A souvenir poster (11 x 17) was designed to commemorate the milestone. A commemorative plaque, marking the site of our founding, was also dedicated and placed in the Ratner Athletics Center at the University of Chicago.

2014 — The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) officially changes its name to SHAPE America.

(For a broader view of MDAAHPERD history, please read The History of the Middle West Society of Physical Education from 1912-1933 by Mabel Lee, Lincoln, NE, 1963)

Inside Midwest District