Weekend Reading: Special Olympics Edition

Posted on July 27, 2012 by


We’ll have our usual set of history-related links tomorrow morning, but on the occasion of the 2012 Summer Olympics formally opening today in London… A special edition of Weekend Reading for those who might want to explore the history of the modern Olympics:

• The Olympic experiences of the country hosting this year’s summer games.

• And see the Olympics page at the British National Archives website, including a timeline that has pictures, documents, and other primary sources from each Olympiad.

Poster advertising the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp

Poster advertising the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium – Wikimedia

• The LA84 Foundation’s digital archives for sports history lets you read oral histories from athletes, official IOC reports, and periodicals like Journal of Olympic History and Olympic Review. (H/T Lara Harmon, who also provides links to other sources useful for teachers wanting to use Olympic history in their classrooms)

• The material history of the modern Olympics (part 1), courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

• Some great photos from the pre-WWII era of the Olympics. (Yes, dumbbell was an Olympic sport in 1904.)

• Back in the days when the Olympics gave gold, silver, and bronze medals for art, architecture, literature, and music… That went away after the 1948 London Summer Olympics, but a “cultural olympiad” continued.

• A small, but not insignificant bit of American exceptionalism: why, starting at the 1908 London Games, the US delegation has been the one country that refuses to dip its flag while passing the leaders of the host nation during the Opening Ceremonies.

• Historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom asks if the 2008 games in Beijing did more to change China, or to change the Olympics…

• And our own Chris Gehrz recently examined the evolution of Olympic records in track, field, and swimming events. Not surprisingly, athletes have become faster and stronger over time, but the change is more obvious in some events than others…

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Posted in: Weekend Reading