Barksdale Field is located adjacent to Phi Beta Kappa Hall and William Barton Rogers Hall, at the corner of Jamestown Road and Landrum Drive on the College of William and Mary Campus. Named for Martha Barksdale, long-time Physical Education Professor and member of the first class of women at the College, Barksdale Field was dedicated on October 10, 1975. Previously, the field was designed as women's athletics fields for hockey, soccer, track, and tennis in the 1930s. Over the years, the field has evolved into a venue for intramural football and soccer by students.
In 2004, the College began a plan to construct two residence halls on the site of Barksdale Field. Completed in 2006 at a cost of an estimated $29 million, the Jamestown Residences contain approximately 128,000 square feet of living space for students.
Board of Visitors Excerpts
May 2, 1975
THE MARTHA BARKSDALE ATHLETIC FIELDS
Martha Elizabeth Barksdale came to William and Mary in 1918 with the first class of women to enter the College.
She was the first woman to receive a B.A. degree from the College. As a very active student leader, she became the first President of the Women’s Student Council; her undergraduate honors include Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar Board. She was the first coed to be chosen as Miss William and Mary and it was a title she was to retain for the rest of her life. Following her graduation from William and Mary, she joined the faculty in 1921 as a member of the newly established Department of Women’s Physical Education. First as a student and then during her first year as a member of the faculty, she was instrumental in organizing one of the earliest intercollegiate athletics programs for women. Miss Barksdale commenced work toward a graduate degree, including a program at Ollerup’s Teachers’ College in Denmark in 1926, and received her M.A. from William and Mary in 1929. She was named an Associate Professor in 1936. In 1965 she became acting head of her department, a position she held until she retired in 1966, when she was named Associate Professor of Physical Education for Women, Emeritus.
Fro 45 years she taught and coached most of the women who attended the College and their lives were richer for this experience. She was a gentlewoman, of the old school, yet she required her students to produce to the best of their abilities.
In 1970 Miss Barksdale received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from the College in recognition of her extraordinary influence on the Women’s Physical Education and Athletic programs, and on the lives of her students, colleagues and associates in this community.
The playing fields for the Department of Women’s Physical Education are located between Phi Beta Kappa Hall and the new Chemistry-Philosophy Building, now under construction, and are presently known as the Phi Beta Kappa Fields. It is the feeling of the faculty of the Department of Women’s Physical Education that the re-working of these fields into 3 permanent playing fields this summer will provide an appropriate opportunity for the College to acknowledge publicly professor Barksdale’s outstanding contribution to a special area of the educational program, a contribution unexcelled by any other woman graduate or faculty member.
RESOLVED. That the above described playing fields be named The Martha Barksdale Athletic Fields as an expression of the appreciation and esteem of the Board of Visitors for the life of this inspiring teacher and distinguished citizen.
RESOLVED FURTHER. That a plaque be placed in an appropriate area to commemorate this recognition and honor for the lasting contribution and memory of Martha Elizabeth Barksdale, and
RESOLVED. That this resolution be placed upon the minutes of the Board of Visitors to honor the memory of this gifted educator and alumna.
- University Archives Photograph Collection including: P1986.99 - Barksdale Field at the Dedication Ceremony in November 1975; P1987.393 - Construction equipment at field; P1988.68 - Spruce tree with field in background.
- University Archives Buildings File (2007), Barksdale Athletic Fields, Earl Gregg Swem Library, The College of William and Mary.
- Plans for new women's field, Flat Hat, 25 April 1930, p. 7.
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