The Schuylkill Navy of Philadelphia is the oldest amateur athletic governing body in the United States. It was founded in 1858 with nine clubs and approximately 300 members. The member clubs of the Navy are all located on the Schuylkill River where it flows through Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, with most of the clubs being located on the historic Boathouse Row. Clubs represented at the founding of the society in October 1858 included America, Camilla, Chebucto, Falcon, Independent, Keystone, Neptune, Pennsylvania, and University. Later that month Nautilus and Quaker City joined. Half of the clubs lapsed during the Civil War. Current member clubs include Fairmount Rowing Association, Crescent Boat Club, Bachelors Barge Club, University Barge Club, Malta Boat Club, Vesper Boat Club, College Boat Club, Penn Athletic Club Rowing Association (Penn AC), Undine Barge Club, Philadelphia Girls’ Rowing Club (PGRC), Gillin Boat Club, and St. Joseph’s University and St. Joseph’s Prep. At least 23 other clubs have belonged to the Navy at various times. By charter, the Schuylkill Nav’s object is “to secure united action among the several Clubs and to promote amateurism on the Schuylkill River.” Each club sends a delegate to the monthly meetings and the clubs elect the officers of the Schuylkill Navy at the January meeting. The Schuylkill Navy and its member clubs still host many races. In 1953, the Navy convinced the Dad Vail Rowing Association to move its regatta to Philadelphia, where it has remained ever since. The Dad Vail is probably the largest collegiate regatta and usually signifies the end of the spring rowing season for most collegiate teams. Other major regattas held each year include the Thomas Eakins Head of the Schuylkill Regatta (sponsored by the University Barge Club) and the Frostbite Regatta. The Navy also sponsors other athletic endeavors including a basketball league and an annual cross country race. The latter has been held since 1899, with a few interruptions during World War II.
This collection is scheduled to be arranged and described. Please stay tuned for updated collection information. This is a collection of papers of the Schuylkill Navy. Materials include: minutes of meetings of the Schuylkill Navy, attended by representatives of each of the Navy’s constituent clubs, 1865-1954 (missing 1883-1888) and 1955-1966. The minutes discuss routine business, including committee reports and rewriting of the group’s constitution and by-laws, preparation for regattas, and activities of member clubs. Correspondence of the Schuylkill Navy’s secretaries include incoming and outgoing correspondence to member rowing clubs, individual members, and other Philadelphia area clubs and organizations. Letters discuss planning of regattas and other events, membership, meetings, and equipment and property of the Schuylkill Navy. Office records, 1940s-1960s, include files on regattas, treasurer’s files, financial records, including account books, check registers, and member lists, by-laws, charter, and other records.
Materials related to regattas include: correspondence, programs, announcements, 1867-1972 (bulk 1930s and 1960s); logbooks of participants and outcomes, 1873-1965; photos, correspondence, programs, and clippings related to the Philadelphia Gold Challenge Cup, 1930s-1950s; scrapbooks (disbound) of programs and clippings, 1913-1940: programs are annotated with scores and outcomes of races); clippings; and regatta programs, 1880-1955, of regattas held by the Schuylkill Navy and local and regional regattas held by other rowing clubs. Records related to other rowing organizations include: files related to FISA, the international rowing federation, including member bulletins, annual reports, and proceedings of annual congresses; National Association of Amateur Oarsmen records including correspondence, minutes, financial information, and office files; correspondence related to donations for the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team (1950-1952); and minutes of the Middle States Regatta Association, 1888-1961.
Records for the Schuylkill Navy Basketball League, 1957-1970, include schedules, player lists, and score books. Files related to the Schuylkill Navy Cross Country Run, 1925-1965, include programs, race results, reports, and correspondence.
Scrapbooks, 1928, 1935-1946, 1947-1960, 1966, include clippings, programs, and photographs.
Photographs in the collection, 1940s-1970s, include portraits of rowing crews, photos of crews during races, (some with information about the crew). Many of these are of university or prep school crews.
The collection also contains bound and some loose copies of Rowing News, 1943-1959, and flags of the United States, Canada, and the Soviet Union.
- National Association of Amateur Oarsmen (U.S.)
- Rowing clubs–Pennsylvania–Philadelphia