Women's Department, Centre College

Caldwell College - Kentucky College for Women - Centre College

The Kentucky College for Women (KCW) can trace its origins back to 1854 when the state legislature granted a charter to "earnest Christian men who desired for the young women, not only of this community, but of the state at large, educational advantages similar to those afforded young men in the historic Centre College." The school opened under the name "Caldwell Female Institute." In 1913, the name was changed to Kentucky College for Women.

In 1926, the school opened as a department of Centre College, and formally consolidated with Centre in 1930. The Women's Campus was vacated in January 1962 when the two campuses consolidated and the women students took up residence in new dormitories on the Centre campus.

Physical activity for health reasons was always a part of the curriculum (Baird, p.28). This included walking, and light gymnastics. Basketball was introduced as an intermural sport in 1904 but it wasn't until 1914 that it became an intercollegiate sport. 

There were a variety of Recreational Clubs offered to the women: Tennis, Archery, Swimming, Hiking, and Field Hockey.

Read more:


Women Athletes Blazing a Trail: a History of Women's Participation in Sport at a Small Liberal Arts College


Curry created this scrapbook documenting women's basketball and other sports, 1919-1924.

Anita Curry (1902 - 2000), class of 1925. was one of the inaugural inductees in the Centre College Athletic Hall of Fame. She held letters in baseball, basketball, track, and bowling. She was a four-year tennis champion; won the coveted Miniature Gold Basketball Award; Nebraska State Tennis Champion 1920-27; held the Midwest title in tennis; held the Missouri Valley and City Championship titles in table tennis.


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The Three K Club

Organized on October 4, 1920 by Florence Kilmer, the physical education instructor.

To win this prize awarded by the Athletic Association, a student had to earn three Ks, obtained through proficiency in a least three different sports. Ks were given in swimming, hiking, tennis, basketball, and baseball.

Pictured is Mary Carlisle Bird, the first student to earn her three Ks - in basketball, hiking and swimming.