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Osterberg Collection

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2121 Osterberg Collection
Held at: University of Greenwich
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Full title: Osterberg Collection
Date(s): [1885]-1986
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: Collection housed in 5 small rooms
Name of creator(s): Hampstead College of Physical Training
Bergman Osterberg Physical Training College
Dartford College of Physical Education
Dartford College


Administrative/Biographical history:

Martina Bergman Osterberg was a Swedish woman and an early supporter of women's suffrage in Sweden. She trained at the Royal Central Gymnastic Institute in Stockholm, and was appointed Superintendant of Physical Education in Girls' and Infants' Schools by the London School Board in 1881. She founded a college for girls in Hampstead in 1885, known as the Hampstead College of Physical Training. Teacher training was the central activity of the College, following the scientific method of the Swedish teacher Per Henrik Ling. The students were taught anatomy, physiology, hygiene, massage and remedial exercises. Corsets, which most women regarded as an essential garment, were not worn by the students and gym tunics were designed for the College in 1892. The design was adopted by most other schools in the country and became standard school uniform. Games and sports became a principal activity of the College, with students taking part in swimming, tennis and fives from the opening, and soon after fencing and cricket.

In 1895 Madame Osterberg transferred her college and the 27 students to Kingsfield, a large country house near Dartford. Activities continued much as before, with the addition of a track which was used for running, marching and cycling. Basketball was adapted at the College for soft surfaces, and given the name netball. By 1904 lacrosse was also introduced. On her death in 1915 the trustees and Committee of Management continued to run the College much as Madame Osterberg herself had done so.

In 1919 a third year was added to the College course, allowing students to specialise in specific subjects. In 1936 Dartford began an association with the University of London with students able to work for the University's Diploma in Theory and Practice of Physical Education. Increasing numbers of students led the college to expand, opening Oakfield Hall and hostel and acquiring 28 acres of land for more playing fields. During the Second World War the College was evacuated to Cornwall, and at the same time became Dartford College of Physical Education. The College became grant-aided, and in 1960 was transferred to the management of London County Council (LCC), when the Committee of Management was replaced by a Governing Body. In 1968 the LCC began plans to increase student numbers from 165 to 750. A three year course was also introduced to train teachers for general teaching in primary and middle schools, but the College continued its emphasis on games playing and training physical education teachers.

Dartford College amalgamated with Thames Polytechnic in 1976. By 1979 the PE course for women teachers of sports and gymnastics was closed, and by 1986 teacher training at Dartford had ceased. Thames Polytechnic had located the Faculties of the Built Environment and of Education and Movement Studies at Dartford by 1985.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Bergman Osterberg Physical Training College, later Dartford College of Physical Education, comprising meetings of the Committee of Management, [1916-1960]; minutes of Governors meetings, 1962-1965; minutes of the Governing Body, 1970-1976; ?minutes of College Committee meetings, 1927-1937; minutes of College and Council meetings, 1955-1964; minutes of the College Council, 1968-1969; minutes of the Academic Board, 1969, 1972-1975;

minutes of Library Committee meetings, 1956-1962; minutes of the Games Committee, 1919; minutes of Games meetings, 1949-1955; Games Executive meetings, 1979-1983; minutes of the Bergman Osterberg Union of Trained Gymnastic Teachers, 1916-1917; minutes of staff meetings, 1951-1959, 1969-1973; minutes of the Staff Council, 1972-1977; minutes of Dartford Sports Association, 1980-1981; minutes of the B.Ed Honours (Physical Education) Course Committee, 1980-1985; minutes of the Staff/Student Advisory Committee, 1982;

students' book, 1900-1914, giving lists and details of students; card indexes recording details of former students; pass lists and examiners reports, 1971-1986; Thames Polytechnic examination papers, 1980-1986; student assessments and reports, 1935-1938, 1946-1962; individual student records, 1915-1921; student entry files, 1921-1947; uniform lists, 1911-1950s; rules of residence at the College, 1947; papers relating to staff appointments;

papers relating to the College remedial clinic for children, [1900-1964], including details of treatment and exercises, case histories and photographs of patients; patient record cards, 1950s-1960s; record book, containing photographs and clinical details; correspondence; patient case book, 1916-1921;

volumes recording sports matches, notably lacrosse, cricket, hockey, swimming, netball and tennis, some with photographs, 1904-1985;

plans, maps and drawings of site buildings, [1895-1995]; letters and plans relating to the site and buildings, 1950s; papers relating to college properties; papers relating to the amalgamation of Dartford College with Thames Polytechnic, [1975-1976]; prospectuses, 1891-1982; programmes, 1891-1977;

papers relating to the College during the Second World War, [1939-1945]; College papers relating to the removal of the College to Newquay, Cornwall, [1941]; papers relating to establishment of the University of London Diploma in Physical Education, 1930-1939; correspondence, 1945-1948; correspondence and press cuttings relating to proposals on teacher training, 1982; papers relating to proposal to close teacher training courses at Thames Polytechnic, 1982;

financial records, notably staff pay salary books, 1953-1961; Games Association accounts, 1969-1986; Principals' account, 1944-1951; Bergman Osterberg Trust financial records, notably accounts and ledgers, 1922-1960; correspondence of the College Bursar and Treasurer, 1950s-1960s; papers relating to staff salaries and other expenditure, 1946-1960; deeds and correspondence relating to Pauline Ada Starling Memorial Fund, 1928, and the Bergman Osterberg Trust;

photographs of College life (loose and in albums), including views of College buildings, staff and students, student activities, the remedial clinic, sports and sports teams, classrooms, outdoor activities, dance and gymnastic displays, royal visits, 1890s-1970s; photographs of principals, 1891-1978, including Madame Bergman Osterberg;

letters to Madame Bergman Osterberg, 1906-1915 (in Swedish); notes by Madame Bergman Osterberg, 1887-1911, including notes on the Theory of Movement; scrapbook of College history compiled by Madame Bergman Osterberg, [1885-1915];

certificates awarded to students, [1914-1948]; information files, [1902-1985], relating to individual students and staff, College administration and management, buildings, curriculum and syllabuses;

records relating to the Bergman Osterberg Union, namely Committee Meeting minutes, 1940-1987; magazines, 1917-1996; Bergman Osterberg Trust, anniversaries and celebrations, finance;

memoirs relating to the College, 1900s-1970s; essays by old students relating to College life between 1892-1914; letters from old students who attended the College between 1891-1981; press cuttings relating to the College, 1932-1975; scrapbook of royal visit, 1918;

notes by E A Macleod, relating to theory of education and movement, biology, theory of games, practical science, anatomy, physiology, undated; notes (in Swedish) by Miss A Wikner, relating to pedagogical gymnastics, symptamology, gymnastic exercises, history, physiology, [1904]; exercise books of Katharine Lewis, 1930s, relating to various subjects taught at the College; course notes and lesson plans prepared by Margaret E Welch, 1964, on anatomy, physiology, remedial work; student notes by Cath Martineau, 1948-1951, including notes on anatomy, physiology, pathology, theory of movement.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English and Swedish

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

The archive is located at former college premises in Oakfield Lane, Dartford, by agreement with North West Kent College. Researchers wishing to consult the archives should first contact:

Conditions governing reproduction:

At the discretion of the Staff.

Finding aids:

The Bergman Osterberg Archive consultancy report by Peter Boreham, 1999.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired by Thames Polytechnic, later the University of Greenwich, on the amalgamation of Dartford College in 1976, although many of the personal and historic items have been donated to and are owned by the Bergman Osterberg Union as archive keeper.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Badges, trophies and uniforms are also held by the Archive.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: An Illustrated History of the University of Greenwich Thomas Hinde (University of Greenwich, 1996). Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
February 2010

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