Although the Physical Education Department was not established until 1916, athletic programs began at Barnard around 1900 through the offices of the Committee on Undergraduate Athletics, an alumnae group. The Greek Games, first held in 1903, were a spontaneous development initiated by the Class of 1905 as a challenge to the freshman class. Athletic components of the Greek Games included wrestling, chariot racing, discus throwing and torch races. Later classes added drama, dance, poetry and music to the festival. The Greek Games were officially discontinued in 1968 but were revived on a smaller scale in 1996 and again in 2000. Dance at Barnard was originally part of the physical education program. Currently it is a separate department.
Awards, syllabi, schedules and notices (1972-1974), questionnaires (1918-1938), annual reports (1919-1969), departmental meeting minutes (1918-1953, 1972-1977), records of physical examinations (1941-1959) and gym uniforms (1935) related to the founding, management and operations of the Physical Education department. Also included are: awards, artifacts, costumes, correspondence, clippings, handbooks, scrapbooks, songsheets, programs related to Barnard College Greek Games (1903-1967) including a manuscript by Louis A. Ruprecht, "To the Gods of Hellas': A History of the Greek Games at Barnard." and motion pictures of Greek Games for years, 1944,1949,1953 and 1966. Other Physical Education Department motion pictures are found in the Barnard Film Collection.