Baker Graded School Basketball, 1907

See the 1907 female basketball squad of Mobile's Baker Graded School in vivid color.

Women’s basketball began at the collegiate level in 1892, thanks to the pioneering of Sandra Berenson Abbott, but it would be five more years before high school girls had the opportunity to play. Early versions of the game were quite different than today’s, largely due to 19th-century Victorian culture. 

With the notion that women were frail and could easily become overly fatigued, Abbott wrote the first “Basketball Guide for Women” in which she attempted to reduce the  roughness of the previously male-only sport: players were to remain in assigned regions on the court and could not dribble more than three times, hold the ball for longer than three seconds or snatch the ball from an opponent. 

With men’s basketball rules being modified in accordance to Victorian standards, it is no wonder women’s outfits looked different from their counterparts, too. Because propriety was more important than comfort, uniforms originally included trousers worn under a knee-length skirt. That was soon replaced by loose bloomers worn over stockings, as seen on this 1907 team from Baker Graded School.

Established in 1888, Baker Graded School was an all-girls school located on North Claiborne Street and run by Nannie Baker, for whom modern-day Baker High is named. 

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Original photo courtesy Mrs. Dwain Luce, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama • Colorization by Dynamichrome Limited

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