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Thu Feb 7, 2013, 12:22 PM

a biography of the day-ethel perrin (physical education)

Perrin, Ethel (7 Feb. 1871-15 May 1962), physical educator,
was born in Needham, Massachusetts, the daughter of David Perrin,
a merchant, and Ellen Hooper. Perrin was educated privately as
a young girl, then enrolled in Howard Collegiate Institute in
West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, in 1888. At the Howard Institute
Perrin discovered her love of physical activity and enjoyed the
formal aspects of training she received in this area. After her
graduation in 1890, she enrolled in the Boston Normal School
of Gymnastics, a physical training school for women recently
established by Amy Homans. She was a member of the second graduating
class of the Boston School in 1892 and joined its faculty that
same year; she continued to teach at the school until 1906. Throughout
her career in Boston, she promoted the school's emphasis on Swedish
gymnastics and participated in its becoming one of the most prominent
physical training schools in the country.

Perrin spent the 1906-1907 school year as a temporary director
of physical education at Smith College, then moved to Ann Arbor
to serve as a substitute instructor at the University of Michigan
for a year. In 1908 she became director of girls' physical education
at Central High School in Detroit, and the next year she was
named the first supervisor of physical culture for the public
schools in Detroit. Perrin is credited with building a nationally
recognized program in Detroit. Her staff grew to include more
than 300 physical education teachers, and she oversaw twenty-four
elementary school gymnasia. Her philosophy was clearly reflected
in the combined emphasis she put on games and sports as well
as dances, corrective exercises, and story plays. She favored
intramural activities over highly competitive sports and always
paid close attention to opportunities for girls in physical education.

Perrin's contributions to physical education were evident in
her professional activism. She served as president of the Midwest
Society of Physical Education in 1917 and 1918 and in 1920 was
elected as vice president of the American Physical Education
Association, the highest position a woman had held in the Association
at that time. In 1923 she was a founder of and officer in the
Women's Division of the National Amateur Athletic Federation
and was also an active member of the National Education Association.

Throughout her career, Perrin published several works. She was
a coauthor of One Hundred and Fifty Gymnastic Games (1902), A
Handbook of Rhythmical Balance Exercises (1906), and Play Day:
The Spirit of Sport (1929). Her articles included "Athletics
for Women and Girls," Playground (March 1924), and "More Competitive
Athletics for Girls--But of the Right Kind," American Physical
Education Review (Oct. 1929).

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