At Mid-Century

Charm Bracelet, Women's Athletics

Instead of earning points for a "W" women were awarded a charm bracelet for participating in campus athletics.  This change to "non-competitive" games followed a general pattern at colleges across the country.

In fall 1947 the Women's Athletic Association (WAA) adopted a new motto of "sports for sports sake." 

In 1948, it reorganized into the Women's Recreation Association (WRA), adding bridge and other activities.  The WRA ruled in 1955 that women could not play in both varsity and intramural athletics.  With intramurals a large part of sorority life, it soon was the more popular choice.  Women's varsity teams would not return until 1975.

Diving and Synchronized Swimming Teams
WU Mermaids, as pictured
in the 1953 Hatchet yearbook (page 215)


One of the most popular teams for women in the 1940s and 1950s was the Washington University Mermaids (WUMS).  In addition to holding swimming meets, the team also competed in diving and synchronized swimming events. 

Cheerleader Dress


Until the 1940s, all cheerleaders on campus were men.  As women began joining the cheer squad after World War II, this became the first athletic activity on campus where men and women were encouraged to participate together.