Digital Commonwealth

Jess Hopkins' Letter to McCurdy (August 1912)

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Jess Hopkins' Letter to McCurdy (August 1912)
Jess Hopkins wrote this letter on August 26, 1912 to James H. McCurdy. Hopkins did not immediately send the letter, and on August 29 wrote an additional page. In the first section, he writes that he arrived safely in Uruguay and describes the YMCA work. In the second section, Hopkins provides more information about the people he met and the work they are undertaking in establishing a YMCA.
Hopkins, Jess T.
August 1912
Springfield College Archives and Special Collections
Collection (local):
College Archives Digital Collections
Student Files
International Young Men's Christian Association Training School (Springfield, Mass.)
Springfield College
Springfield College--Alumni and alumnae
International Young Men's Christian Association
Young Men's Christian Association of North America
Springfield College--Faculty
Hopkins, Jess T.
McCurdy, J. H. (James Huff), 1866-1940
MassachusettsHampden (county)Springfield
2 Pages
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Springfield College
Jess Townsend Hopkins (March 31, 1887—?) was born in Iowa and graduated from the International YMCA Training School, now known as Springfield College, in 1910. While there, he served as vice president of his class. After graduation, he worked as physical director of the Gorgona YMCA in Panama. In the summer of 1915, he was hired by the International Committee for South America to work on playground extension. After this work, Hopkins was hired as the first physical director of the Montevideo YMCA (founded in 1909) and as director of physical education for the Uruguayan government. In this position, he built two new playgrounds. Twelve thousand spectators attended the inauguration of the last playground, where a variety of sports were demonstrated by athletic clubs. During this event, baseball was demonstrated for the very first time in Uruguay. The YMCA also introduced basketball, volleyball and competitive swimming to the country. In 1918, he returned to Springfield College for his master’s degree in physical education. In 1920, Hopkins introduced social development and extension programs, such as the work with "canillitas" (people who sell newspapers on the streets). Hopkins is also credited with raising the standards and expectations for gyms and physical education at the Uruguay YMCA. Before his arrival, gyms were poorly ventilated with only heavy weightlifting equipment. Hopkins transformed them into arenas for popular classes, exercise routines, and YMCA drills. He introduced hot and cold baths, embraced the “Play Fair” philosophy, and brought physical training and health education into school curriculum. In 1928, Hopkins left Uruguay and returned to the United States. James Huff McCurdy M.D. (1866-1940) graduated from Springfield College in 1890. In 1895, he returned to the school as an instructor. McCurdy contributed to the field of physical education in many ways, including his studies on the relationship between heart rate, blood pressure, and motor tasks in adolescent boys. In 1924, he published one of the first texts for Exercise Physiology. In 1918, James H. McCurdy realized the need “for an extensive programme of sports and recreation in the immediate postwar period that would bridge the gap and ease the transition between military service and civilian life.” The result was the Inter-Allied Games, the biggest international sports event that had ever been held at that time. Attended by 25,000 people, the Games were a huge success. Dr. McCurdy was the Director of the Division of Athletes, Hygiene and Health for the American YMCA among American troops in France.