The First Women’s Game

The podcast episode is dedicated to the history of the first documented women’s soccer game (football according to the Association rules) played in the United States between the Colleen Brawns and Bonnie Lassies. The match took place on December 3, 1893 in San Francisco California.

Listen to the podcast here.

Unfortunately we have little information about the women who participated in the game. More details, however can be found about some of the other sporting women I talk briefly about in the podcast including Ella “Jaguarina” Hattan and Lillian Smith.

woman with sword
Ella Hattan, “Jaguarina.” Image from Houghton Library, Harvard University. ms-thr-710-223_0000014

The U.S. Fencing Hall of Fame has a detailed biography of Hattan who was born in Ohio in 1859. She trained as a fencer with Col. Thomas Monstery who had a San Francisco connection through his friend Mark Twain. Hattan would go on to excel in the sport of mounted sword dueling, although some believe most of the bouts were fixed. Note: Most of the online documents give her name as Ella but some sources, including Alan Guttmann’s Women’s Sports: A History refer to Etta.

woman with gun
Lillian Smith, 1886. Image from Wikipedia.org

Lillian Smith was born in 1871 at Coleville, California. She took up shooting as a child and soon became well known across the West Coast as something of a prodigy. In 1886 she joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show and toured Europe, including stops in England and France. She developed an intense rivalry with Annie Oakley although it was usually Oakley who proved herself to be the better markswoman, at least under pressure.

Originally posted August 2014.

Podcast Sources

Special thanks to Mel Smith and Rob Weir for their assistance.

Patrick Brennan, “Womens Football” www.donmouth.co.uk/womens_football/womens_football.html

Susan K. Cahn, Coming on Strong. Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Sport. The Free Press, 1994.

Daily Alta California

Alan Guttmann, Women’s Sports: A History. Columbia University Press, 1991.

James Lee, The Lady Footballers. Struggling to Play in Victorian Britain. Routledge, 2008.

Roberta J. Park, “British Sports and Pastimes in San Francisco, 1848-1900” British Journal of Sports History vol. 1, 3 (1984): 300-317.

San Francisco Call

Jean Williams, A Beautiful Game. International Pespectives on Women’s Football. Berg, 2007.

Jean Williams, A Contemporary History of Women’s Sport. Part One: Sporting Women, 1850-1960. Routledge, 2014.

Jean Williams, A Game for Rough Girls? A History of Women’s Football in Britain. Routledge, 2003.

David J. Williamson, Belles of the Ball. R & D Associates, 1991.

Sound Clips in this episode from www.freesound.org:

Metal Band Jam 5 Thrash.wav by RutgerMuller
football score.wav by winsx87
KazooRe.wav by NoiseCollector
Flaw-and-Disorder.wav by copycat
tennis.flac (converted to .wav) by Pullover aus Milch
Horse Galloping.wav by Max_Headroom
Grunts.wav by bannychico11
Scherzo no. 2, Op. 14  by Clara Schumann from Musopen.org

Author: Brian

Brian D. Bunk is the creator and host of the Soccer History USA podcast. He is a senior lecturer in history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His early research focused on Modern Spanish history and his book Ghosts of Passion: Martyrdom, Gender, and the Origins of the Spanish Civil War appeared in 2007. His recent work examines the history of sport in the United States with an emphasis on boxing and soccer. Articles on these topics have been published in the Journal of Sport History, Sport in History and Sport in Society.

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