Head of history department publishes book


Shannon Galliart

Dr. Matthew Lindaman gave a presentation on his book, Fit for America, on Tuesday, October 16th at 6pm in the Student Activities Center. His book focuses on John L. Griffith and his achievements in collegiate athletics during the World Wars.

Sarah Govis, Features Reporter

History Department head Matthew Lindaman recently published his new book, Fit for America, which covers intercollegiate athletics and how they helped in the development of fitness training programs between World War I and World War II. It is also a biography of John L. Griffith, who implemented the fitness training programs.

Prior to the wars, there was little focus on physical activity in schools, especially at the university level. Many soldiers attempting to join the war effort were turned away because of their poor physical fitness. Griffith left his job as a professor at Drake University and from there, he went to Camp Dodge, a training center where men trained for a year before joining the war. At Camp Dodge, he introduced new fitness programs.

Griffith emphasized sports and play for fitness, rather than the martial training that had been focused on previously. After World War I, he predicted another war would follow. He believed physical education integration into universities would be a major help to this problem. His work lead to the standardization of fitness programs.

Lindaman did not intend to write a book on college athletics when he began sifting through archives at the University of Kansas.

“It was an accidental discovery. I was studying immigration history and I found a royal blue book that caught my eye. It was an athletic journal that was first published in 1920 and went to World War II. There was an editorial at the beginning of each journal that I found very fascinating.” Lindaman said.

Inside the books, Lindaman found diagrams of plays and details of plans for memorial stadiums after World War I. Lindaman continued to study Griffith and his work with college athletics.

Tori Senica, a junior social sciences education major at Winona State, is excited by the prospect of reading a book published by one of her professors.

“I’m interested in this book because my professor published it and I want to learn more about it. Sports in general, especially football, really intrigue me.” Senica said.

Ben Ellgen, junior political science major, is interested in becoming more connected with the history department.

“It seemed like an interesting topic. It’s cool when a professor you know publishes a book. It’s interesting to see it in a tangible way since it’s recently published,” Ellgen said. “Sports history isn’t what I’m usually interested in but it’s a good opportunity to learn and become more connected with the history department.”