James Naismith collection  1893-1962 (bulk 1917-1961)
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Biography

James Naismith was born in Almonte, Ontario, on November 6, 1861, the son of John Naismith and Margaret Young. He graduated from McGill University in 1887, and studied theology until 1890, when he began training as a physical educator with the YMCA. While at the YMCA's training facility in Springfield, Massachusetts, he invented the game of basketball, intended to occupy the winter athletics lull between football and baseball seasons. The first basketball game was played in December 1891, and the sport quickly grew in popularity and developed a standard set of rules. Naismith remained in Massachusetts until he moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1895. After receiving his medical degree from Gross Medical School in 1898, Naismith became the instructor of physical education at the University of Kansas, a position he held until his retirement in 1937. Throughout his time there, he actively encouraged students to take an interest in their health. He fostered an intramural sports program at the university and coached local high school basketball teams. Naismith became an ordained Presbyterian minister in 1916 and served as a chaplain for the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I. His religious upbringing and theological training contributed to a lifelong interest in the relationship between athletics and morality, and he maintained an interest in the history of basketball until the end of his life, participating on several basketball rules committees. He married Maude Evelyn Sherman (d. 1937) in 1894, and they had five children. He married Florence Mae Kincaid in 1939, shortly before his death. James Naismith died on November 28, 1939.