Action on the pitch: a visual approach to nineteenth century football history in The Netherlands

Jan Luitzen, Wim Zonneveld

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Abstract

This article illustrates the ‘visual turn’ approach to sports history in an analysis
of traditionally under-researched material from the late nineteenth century. Focusing on football (‘soccer’) action photography, we argue that interpreting this visual material contributes significantly to the exploration and interpretation of the broader social and cultural context within which sports were practised and
the visual material was produced. Regarding the latter, the photographer’s challenge was to capture the movement inherent in the practice of sports generally and of football specifically. Our analysis explains the time at which these pictures first appear as a consequence of developing possibilities and skills in ongoing photographic experimentation. This is illustrated by a case study of a football action photograph from the archives of the Noorthey Institute for boys in Voorschoten, dating from 1895-1897. There, conducting sports was seen as a way of enhancing the students’ physical and mental strengths, including improved study performance. It took place in an atmosphere of camaraderie among teachers and students, the latter acting as supervisors and teammates at the same time. Beyond the texts, the photographs visualize what this educational approach entailed in actual practice
Translated title of the contributionAction on the pitch: a visual approach to nineteenth century football history in The Netherlands
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)27-50
JournalDe Moderne Tijd
Volume1
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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