Odds and quads

These images, held in the archives of the University of Strathclyde, come from the papers of William J. Ireland (1924-2002), a graduate of the Scottish School of Physical Education who went on to become a well-known teacher of country dance.

May 3, 2012

Established at Jordanhill College in 1931, the SSPE was the only training centre for male teachers of PE in Scotland. Mr Ireland was a particularly diligent student who took copious lecture notes, carefully copied them out in blue ink, illustrated them with hand-drawn diagrams and stick figures, and filed them away in neat black ring binders.

Many of the notes reflect the strong medical emphasis of British physical education courses, which grew out of an official drive to improve the health of the nation. Although this had been prompted by the poor physical condition of volunteers for the Boer War at the start of the century, it persisted until the 1950s.

Also included in the Ireland papers are 96 black-and-white snapshots of him and his classmates from the period 1942-45, freezing in their shorts or performing gymnastics, dance routines and pranks.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz @tsleducation.com

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