Black Diamond Ladies Basketball circa 1901

As basketball fans wade through several more months of the seemingly interminable NBA playoffs, we look back to a bygone era of amateurs playing for fun. While some may think women’s sports weren’t invented until Title IX of the Education bill of 1972, nothing could be further from the truth.

Shown here is the Black Diamond ladies basketball team circa 1901, at a time when coal mining was king.This is a remarkable testament to the sport’s growth as the game had been invented only a decade earlier,by a Canadian, James Naismith. Basketball was originally played with a soccer ball, as seen in the hand of one of the team members.

This Black Diamond Historical Society image #2003.85.01 comes courtesy of John Stewart from the Estate of Ellen Williams Olson, who was originally from Cardiff, Wales. Ellen wrote her teammate’s names on the back of the photo then added, “I was home sick when this was taken.” Research assistance was provided by JoAnne Matsumura, an Issaquah historian.

As best that can be determined from Ellen’s photo note, the names of her teammates and coaches are: Top row: Miss Forsyth (teacher in Black Diamond – holding whistle), Grace Brown, Rachel Davis, Mabel Davis, Mary Booths, Annie Mary Davis, Mabel Ginder, Mrs. Anna B. Stone. Front row: Edna Mills, Mary Jane Wallace, Mabel Bussey, Sina Davies, Laura Gwellym, Emily Hutchenson, Mabel Ginder (named twice), and Lottie Davis.