1930s roller-derby scrapbook

Los Peep features a 1930s roller derby scrapbook, scanned and posted: "Here are a few images from a tattered 1930s scrapbook documenting a roller derby tournament in Oakland, California. Derbyists include Mary Youpelee (a “full-blooded Indian princess”), Ivy King (aka “Poison” Ivy), Ma Bogash and her son Bill, Grace Freid, Hazel Roop, and Honey Thomas. You’ll find the entire scrapbook in pdf facsimile at the bottom of this post. Now move outta the damn way, Ma, before I knock you on your keester!"

1930s Roller Derby Scrapbook (Thanks, Paul!)


  1. The best thing about this photo is the derbyist at the bottom left. Involved in a multi-person pile up and still takes time to smile for the camera. Awesome. 

  2. Cory, I’m sure I speak for lots of happy mutants when I urge you to go see a London Rollergirls bout very soon (if you haven’t aready!)
    Modern derby embodies all SORTS of wonderful DIY activities, from the skating on the track to the ongoing rules tweaking, to the programmers open-sourcing the statistics software, to the folks working on rewriting the truly horrific venue-management contracts that encrust sports arenas.  I’m pretty sure this is RIGHT up your alley.

  3. Yowza! Getta load a them gams! Why, she makes Clara Bow look like Fatty Arbuckle! I wouldn’t mind taking her to the Automat for some nickel pie! I… um… something about Hoover? Anyway, 23 skidoo!

  4. My father invented the game in 1935, I ran it from 1959 to 1973, and am a big supporter of Roller Derby today (mostly on flat track).  there are now 1266 leagues in 38 countries comprised of about 75,000 competitors.  it is fully competitive and is being considered for the 2020 Olympics.  The above photo is a staged publicity photo which is why the women are not wearing their leather-patched tights….it is for “cheesecake” value for the newspapers.  Ivy King who is pictured was the first woman star of Roller Derby and the only  one to wear glasses….Helmets were not required at this time and were of no protective value.  They were added as part of the game in 1959.  to get the definitive book on Roller Derby from 1935 to 2000 (with great photos) go to http://www.rollerderbycommish.com.

  5. The derbyists in the photo are about half the size of the current crop of roller derby women and I am wondering if this is because (a) in the last 80 years EVERYONE got bigger or (b) the sport itself changed to emphasize more body-slamming contact, thus making a larger frame more advantageous ?

    1. LaylaSV, apologies in advance if you are a seasoned derby skater and already know all of this; my intention is not to school you, but rather just to yammer on about a GREAT sport.  Okay, so here goes:

      You’ll find skaters of most shapes and sizes on a modern derby team, both fast nimble jammers and powerful blockers (and vice-versa, for that matter.)
      Just to throw out some recent examples, a nimble jammer like Gotham’s Bonnie Thunders (pictured below) is pretty much the same size as the skaters pictured above, though arguably more muscular. Bonnie is incredibly fast, and incredibly fit. She’s not the exception; skaters at the national level are extremely athletic.On the other side, blockers do tend to be more powerful. In this video, Rose City Rollers’ Wheels of Justice performs the “PegAssist”, where she reaches back, grabs her jammer, and lifts her UP AND AROUND the opposing blockers, landing her on to the track ahead of them:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPvzEyEROUUThat probably calls for more muscle mass/body mass than the scrapbook skaters in the picture.

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