Arnold College of Hygiene and Physical Education
Brooklyn, NY; New Haven, CT; Milford, CT
In 2011 I was able to purchase the 1948 Fall In, the Arnold College yearbook, so I was able to get a look into the life of this stand-alone school of physical education. I later received information from the University of Bridgeport library--which provided the seal-- and the Milford Public Library.
The Brooklyn Normal School of Gymnastics was founded in 1886 by Dr. W. C. Anderson, a leader in the field of physical education in the United States. In 1892 the school was moved to New Haven, CT, and took the name New Haven Normal School of Gymnastics. Dr. E. Herman Arnold became the director of the school in 1900, leading it to an improved curriculum. In 1921 the school adopted a three-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Hygiene and Physical Education. In 1929 the program was increased to four years, leading to a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Health degree. At a later point, the school moved out to Milford, CT and took the name of its director.
Arnold College was the first co-educational college for hygiene and physical education in the nation. After holding an independent existence for 67 years, it merged with the University of Bridgeport and became a part of the College of Education of that school.
The 1948 Fall In shows a student body of around 300 taught by a 19-member faculty. Student activities were in accordance with the focus of the college. In addition to governance and publications, student organizations involved gymnastics, dance, and water sports.
In “The Arnold College Division” under the University of Bridgeport website, Angela Varney notes that Arnold College was very demanding of its students. They were not allowed to miss a class and were required to appear each day well groomed and in clean uniforms. Male students were required to be clean-shaven with a risk of being sent back to their dorms to shave if an instructor was not satisfied with their appearance.
Bricks and Mortar
The 1948 Fall In describes the Arnold campus as “the picturesque site of Pond Point, Milford, on the shores of Long Island Sound.” According to the Milford Public Library, that campus is now a residential area. The gymnasium, built during the 1947-48 school year, now serves as a fire hall for the Pond Point neighborhood.
In 1953 Arnold College moved onto the University of Bridgeport campus and in 1967 was housed in the new Harvey Hubbell Gymnasium.
Main Building (Fall In)
Team name: Terriers
Colors: Red and White
The 1948 yearbook shows Arnold College fielding teams in football, basketball, baseball, golf, gymnastics, and track. A rarity for the time, Arnold fielded a women’s basketball team. “The Arnold College Division,” states that Arnold was a leader in women’s sports.
Arnold began playing intercollegiate football in 1927 and continued through the 1952 season with a hiatus during World War II. Through the years, their most common opponents were Lowell Tech (now part of UMass-Lowell), the College of New Jersey, Bates College of Maine, New Britain Teachers College (Now Central Connecticut), and Bergen Junior College of New Jersey. Because of their location, they were able to play opponents throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and even Maryland.
Perhaps because of a relatively small size, Arnold enjoyed only modest success in football. The 1948 team was the school’s best, finishing with a 6-2-1 record. However, two alumni of Arnold College went on to play in the NFL. End Andy Robustelli enjoyed a 14-year career with the Rams and Giants, a career that placed him in the NFL Hall of Fame. Halfback Allen Webb, described as an “all-American at Arnold College,” played five years for the Giants and later worked as an executive for the Giants, Cleveland and San Francisco.
The 1947-48 women’s varsity basketball team won four of six games. (Fall In)