1890s Women’s Bicycle Racing: Forgotten, but Why?

in Sport History Review

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Roger Gilles Grand Valley State University

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This article discusses six factors that have contributed to what Clare S. Simpson called the “paucity of primary and secondary sources” related to women’s bicycle racing of the 1890s: efforts by the League of American Wheelman to suppress the sport, and the resulting lack of statistical compilations of the women’s accomplishments; the East Coast bias that prevailed then and through the twentieth century; the prominence of local, as opposed to national, sports coverage in the 1890s; the difficulty of accessing contemporary newspaper accounts of the women’s races; the brevity of the era itself, which lasted only a few years; and good old-fashioned gender bias. Fortunately, with the recent burst of publications about nineteenth century women’s racing, we can now look forward to a more balanced representation of bicycle racing history.

The author is with the Department of Writing, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI.

Address author correspondence to Roger Gilles at gillesr@gvsu.edu.
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