Vintage: Cheerleaders (1930s-1970s)

Vintage: Cheerleaders (1930s-1970s)


The roots of cheerleading began during the late 18th century with the rebellion of male students. After the American Revolutionary War, students experienced harsh treatment from teachers. In response to faculty’s abuse, college students violently acted out. The undergraduates began to riot, burn down buildings located on their college campuses, and assault faculty members. As a more subtle way to gain independence, however, students invented and organized their own extracurricular activities outside their professors’ control. This brought America sports and cheerleading to participate in, beginning first with collegiate teams.

In the 1860s, students from Great Britain began to cheer and chant in unison for their favorite athletes at sporting events. Soon, that gesture of support crossed overseas to America.

On November 6, 1869, the United States witnessed its first intercollegiate football game. It took place between Princeton and Rutgers University, and marked the day the original “Sis Boom Rah!” cheer was shouted out by student fans.

Sixty high school cheerleaders with crepe-paper pompons whip up football spirit, 1947. (Ralph Crane—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Sixty high school cheerleaders with crepe-paper pompons whip up football spirit, 1947. (Ralph Crane—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

SMU cheerleader leaping high into air at University of Texas football game, 1950. (Loomis Dean—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

SMU cheerleader leaping high into air at University of Texas football game, 1950. (Loomis Dean—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Male cheerleaders in action at Wisconsin-Marquette football game, 1939. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Male cheerleaders in action at Wisconsin-Marquette football game, 1939. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheerleaders at Florida State University, 1952. (Robert W. Kelley—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheerleaders at Florida State University, 1952. (Robert W. Kelley—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Duke cheerleaders cheering among the fans in the bleachers, 1952. (Mark Kauffman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Duke cheerleaders cheering among the fans in the bleachers, 1952. (Mark Kauffman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

High school girl cheerleaders wearing sweaters and skirts leaping high in the air during their vigorous cheers at the basketball game, 1953. (Francis Miller—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

High school girl cheerleaders wearing sweaters and skirts leaping high in the air during their vigorous cheers at the basketball game, 1953. (Francis Miller—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

The girls of Central Catholic High School performing their cheerleading act in the gym, 1953. (Nat Farbman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

The girls of Central Catholic High School performing their cheerleading act in the gym, 1953. (Nat Farbman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheerleaders parading prior to a football game between Queens College and the University of Toronto, 1954. (Lisa Larsen—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheerleaders parading prior to a football game between Queens College and the University of Toronto, 1954. (Lisa Larsen—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheering section of cheerleaders in Spokane Coliseum, 1954. (J.R. Eyerman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheering section of cheerleaders in Spokane Coliseum, 1954. (J.R. Eyerman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Hempstead High School cheerleaders chanting a cheer as they encircle the school's tiger mascot during game with Uniondale High, 1958. (Gordon Parks—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Hempstead High School cheerleaders chanting a cheer as they encircle the school’s tiger mascot during game with Uniondale High, 1958. (Gordon Parks—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheerleaders at Little Rock high school game with Louisiana high school team, 1958. (Stan Wayman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheerleaders at Little Rock high school game with Louisiana high school team, 1958. (Stan Wayman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Students participating in a cheerleading practice, 1958. (Paul Schutzer—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Students participating in a cheerleading practice, 1958. (Paul Schutzer—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Members of the Kilgore Rangerettes, a dance/drill team, at the 1960 Cotton Bowl. (Robert W. Kelley—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Members of the Kilgore Rangerettes, a dance/drill team, at the 1960 Cotton Bowl. (Robert W. Kelley—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Lawrence High School cheerleaders during football game, 1960. (Francis Miller—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Lawrence High School cheerleaders during football game, 1960. (Francis Miller—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

A group of cheerleaders rooting for their team, 1964. (Larry Burrows—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

A group of cheerleaders rooting for their team, 1964. (Larry Burrows—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheerleaders training under Bill Horan, of the American Cheerleaders Assn.; Florence Alabama State College, 1965. (Lynn Pelham—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheerleaders training under Bill Horan, of the American Cheerleaders Assn.; Florence Alabama State College, 1965. (Lynn Pelham—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Notre Dame cheerleaders work the crowd during the 1966 "Game of the Century" against Michigan State, 1966. (Bob Gomel—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Notre Dame cheerleaders work the crowd during the 1966 “Game of the Century” against Michigan State, 1966. (Bob Gomel—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheerleaders cheering for a high school basketball game, 1971. (Grey Villet—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Cheerleaders cheering for a high school basketball game, 1971. (Grey Villet—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)


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