Guide to the John Frederick Bohler Papers 1907-1956
Cage 502

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Bohler, John Frederick
John Frederick Bohler Papers
Cage 502
Date [inclusive]
375.0 items.
General Physical Description note
1.25 linear feet of shelf space.
Newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, photographs, and other papers of "Doc" Bohler, chiefly concerned with athletics at Washington State University.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description]. Cage 502, John Frederick Bohler Papers . Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

John Frederick Bohler was born in Reading, Pennsylvania on April 14, 1885. He attended Schuylkill Seminary in Reading between 1904 and 1907 and played on the football, basketball, baseball and track teams. While at Schuylkill Bohler also coached and taught physical education courses. In the summer of 1905 he attended the Chautauqua Summer School of Physical Education. It was at this session that he gained much of his theoretical knowledge in physical education and met many national figures in the development of physical education. In 1906 he organized, captained and played center for the Reading Bears, a professional basketball team, which won the "world" championship. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Schuylkill Seminary in 1907. Following graduation Bohler went to the University of Nebraska where he was a student assistant. He studied, performed research, and gained coaching experience while at Nebraska but did not receive academic credit for his work because there were apparently no institutions then granting advanced degrees in physical education.

In 1908 Bohler was hired as the Physical Director, Coach and Trainer at the State College of Washington. He was married to Ida Louise Hatz on December 29, 1909. In 1915 he became the Director of the Department of Physical Education and Athletics. During the First World War Bohler attended Officers Training Camp at the Presidio (summer, 1918) and was at the Physical Education and Bayonet School at Princeton in November 1918. While at WSC, Bohler coached basketball, track, baseball, wrestling, boxing, and skiing, taught classes in physical education, was athletic trainer for many years, and administered and developed the physical education and athletic programs. In 1944 Bohler was named the first Director of the School of Physical Education.

In addition to his duties on the campus Bohler was active in other organizations. He was present at the organizational meeting of the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Conference in 1915, President of that organization in 1918 and historian from 1916 to 1941. He was also the Secretary of the Pacific Northwest Conference from 1909 to 1915 and historian of that association in 1910. From 1915 to 1933 he was a member of the Rules Committee of the National Intercollegiate Basketball Association and was the Chairman of the Intercollegiate Basketball Committee of the Olympic Committee from 1936 to 1940.

In Pullman, Washington, Bohler belonged to the Kiwanis Club, the Masonic Lodge, the Knights of Pythias, the Chamber of Commerce, the Community chest, and the Methodist Church and served on the City Council, as mayor, as chairman of the Swimming Pool Trustees and as chairman of the Kamiak Butte Development Committee.

On September 15, 1950 Bohler left WSC and became General Manager of the Spokane Civic Auditorium, a post he held until he retired in January 1955 and returned to Pullman. Bohler was a charter member of the National Football Hall of Fame, was awarded the Helms Athletic Foundation Medal, and was elected to the Helms Hall College Basketball Hall of Fame. Bohler died in Pullman, Washington on July 12, 1960.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection dates from 1907 to 1956 but the bulk dates are 1908-1950. The collection includes correspondence, posters, a thesis about Bohler, and photographs but it consists primarily of newspaper clippings -- many mounted in personal scrapbooks. The clippings provide a reasonably complete record of the major events in Bohler's athletic and administrative career as well as personal events in the lives of family members.

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Arrangement note

The papers have been arranged in a single alphabetical arrangement.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 1984
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The papers of J. Fred Bohler were received by the University Libraries in 1957 and were placed with his official records as Director of Physical Education and Athletics (WSU 120).

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Related Materials

Separated Materials note

The records of the office of the Director of Physical Education and Athletics (Bohler was director from 1908 to 1950) are located in Archives 145.

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Bohler, John Frederick, 1885-1960. --Archives


  • Colleges and Universities
  • Scrapbooks
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Washington (State)
  • Washington State University--Sports

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Collection Inventory


Announcements and Posters 1916-1947   17.0 items.

1 / 1

Correspondence 1932-1955   38.0 items.

1 / 2

" J. Fred Bohler, A Pioneer in Physical Education and Athletics" [submitted as a masters thesis by  Heath, William E. ] 1951   1.0 item.

1 / 3

Newspaper Clippings 1927-1956   95.0 items.

1 / 4

Newspaper Clippings 1912-1956   84.0 items.

1 / 5

Newspaper Clippings 1915-1955   74.0 items.

1 / 6

Organizations 1933, 1950   2.0 items.

1 / 7

Photographs 1914-1945   62.0 items.

1 / 8

Scrapbook 1907-1929   1.0 volume.

2 / 9

Scrapbook 1930-1940   1.0 volume.

2 / 10