Camp, Walter, 1859-1925

Alternative names
Birth 1859-04-07
Death 1925-03-14

Biographical notes:

Walter Camp was an author, athletic director, chairman of the board of the New Haven Clock Company, and director of the Peck Brothers Company. He was general athletic director and head advisory football coach at Yale University from 1888-1914, and chairman of the Yale football committee from 1888-1912. Camp was director of the naval athletic program during World War I, and devised the Daily Dozen series of exercises.

From the description of Walter Chauncey Camp papers, 1870-1983 (inclusive), 1870-1925 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702153319

From the description of Walter Chauncey Camp papers, 1870-1983 (inclusive), 1870-1925 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122555784

American author.

From the description of Letter to John S. Phillips, 1891 October 10. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 54022674


From the description of Letter, 1901 December 21. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122597908

Walter Camp (1859-1925) was an American football player, coach, and author.

Walter Camp was born on April 7, 1859 in New Britain, Connecticut to Leverett Lee and Ellen Sophia Camp. He studied at Yale University, where he played on the football team. He later attended the Yale Medical School and worked for the New Haven Clock Company. On June 30, 1888 he married Alice Graham Sumner, and they had two children. Camp became known for his involvement in developing the rules of college football, as well as his writings on sports. He served as coach of the Yale football team from 1888 to 1892, and for Stanford University between 1892 and 1895. He passed away on March 14, 1925 in New York, New York.

Barton O. Aylesworth (1860-1933) was an American college administrator and minister.

Barton Orville Aylesworth was born on September 5, 1860 in Athens, Illinois. He studied at Eureka College, and served as a minister in Illinois and Iowa following his graduation. While serving in Atlantic, Illinois he married Georgia M. Shores, and they had one son, Merlin H. Aylesworth. In 1889 he was selected to as president of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he served until 1897. After leaving Drake he moved west and became the pastor of the Central Christian Church in Denver, Colorado. He returned to education in 1899 when he was appointed the president of the State Agricultural College in Fort Collins, serving until 1909. Aylesworth passed away on July 1, 1933 in Denver, Colorado.

From the guide to the Walter Camp letter to Barton O. Aylesworth, 1901, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

Walter Camp was an author, athletic director, chairman of the board of the New Haven Clock Company, and director of the Peck Brothers Company. He was general athletic director and head advisory football coach at Yale University from 1888-1914, and chairman of the Yale football committee from 1888-1912. Camp was director of the naval athletic program during World War I, and devised the Daily Dozen series of exercises.

WALTER CAMP, 1859 - 1925

Considered the foremost authority on American athletics, and one who bent his energies successfully for many years toward the formation of clean sports, Walter Camp was probably the best all-around amateur athlete of his time. Famous among college coaches and the orginator of the Daily Dozen series of short-hand exercises for physical fitness, he combined success in athletics with success in business and in letters.

Walter Camp led a double life. Athletes and college men were proud to point to him as their inspiration and example, and business men hailed him as equally luminous in their sphere as head of the New Haven Clock Company, one of the largest manufacturing concerns in Connecticut at that time. His interests were on the financial and selling side rather than in the factory. Few college men knew that Camp had a business side and the business men, who didn't read the sporting pages, had no idea that he was extensively involved in athletics. Born in New Britain, Connecticut, on April 7, 1859, Walter Camp was the only child of Leverett Lee Camp, a school teacher and publisher, and Ellen Cornwell, daughter of Chauncey Cornwell, both of New Britain. Walter's middle name which he seldom used was Chauncey, His earliest known ancestor was Nicholas Camp, who came to the United States about 1630 from Essex County, England, and settled in Milford, Connecticut.

Following the death of Mr. Cornwell, Camp's maternal grandfather, in 1863, the Camp family moved to 170 Chapel Street, New Haven, and Leverett became principal of the Washington School. About three years later they moved to 595 Chapel Street at which time Leverett was principal of the Dwight School. In 1884 the family moved again, to 1303 Chapel Street. at 1 Walter lived at home until his marriage in 1888.

Camp prepared at Hopkins Grammar School, a noted institution founded in 1660, predating Yale College. It was located at that time on the northwest corner of High and Wall Streets where the Yale Law School is today. Camp usually stood 4th, 5th or 6th in a class of thirty-three. He entered Yale in 1876 and graduated in 1880 with an A.B. degree. As an undergraduate he was a member of Delta Kappa (a freshman Society), He Boule' (a sophomore Society), the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and Skull and Bones.

Captain of the freshman baseball and football teams, Camp made several varsity teams while at Yale. He was an outstanding pitcher on the baseball nine, and one of the first to master the art of pitching a curve with a baseball. He also played shortstop and left field. He held the best individual record in fielding for shortstops in the old intercollegiate league (.897) and in batting (.627). His fame as a college player led to an offer, in 1884, by the National League of Baseball Clubs to become a member of the staff of league umpires. He was on the track team and is credited at Yale with inventing the hurdle step which was the beginning of the present technique of running instead of jumping hurdles. He rowed on the class crew, and won swimming races from short distances to five miles. He was a fine golfer and tennis player. But it was football that was to make him famous.

The first game of college football under the old Rugby Union rules adopted by Yale and Harvard was played between Yale and Harvard in 1876, and Camp played half-back. This was the year he entered college, and though only seventeen years old, he made the team. Strong, quick with his hands and feet and a fast runner, he had a reputation as a good long distance punter and drop and place kicker. Two years later (1878) he was captain of the team, and again captain in 1879. Elected for the third time in 1880, while a student at the Yale Medical School, he stepped aside so that his friend Robert W. Watson, could be captain. In 1881, Franklin M. Eaton was captain but broke his collarbone in practice and Camp became captain for the third time. In 1882 a knee injury in practice ended Camp's playing days.

As an undergraduate, Walter Camp's creative mind devised the "eleven", the "safety" as a scoring play, the "scrimmage" and the "quarterback." The year he was made captain of the team he attended the second convention of the old Intercollegiate Football Association which was then the football rules legislature. The change from fifteen to eleven players was proposed in 1878 and the safety as a scoring play in 1879. Both proposals were adopted the following year. It was at this same convention in 1880 that Camp succeeded in having the "scrimmage" adopted, probably the greatest single invention that had been made in any game. The old Rugby "scrum" gave neither side the orderly possession of the ball nor the right to put it into play. Camp's "scrimmage" gave the holder of the ball undisputed possession, and the player who received the ball from the snap-back was called the "quarterback".

With his strong interest in anatomy, Camp entered the Yale Medical School in the fall of 1880. After two years, and passing all but two subjects for the M.D. degree, he left school, noting in a biographical questionnaire that "the death of a surgeon with whom I had expected to practice medicine caused me to leave the medical school and go into business."

Upon leaving medical school, Walter Camp joined the sales department of the Manhattan Watch Company in New York City. After a year he was employed as a salesman in the New York office of the New Haven Clock Company. He steadily progressed through the selling end to the export department and thence to the position of assistant treasurer in the New Haven main office. He became treasurer and general manager in 1902, president in 1903, and finally chairman of the board.

In 1888, Camp married Alice Graham Sumner, sister of William Graham Sumner, noted professor of political and social science at Yale, They had two children, Walter Camp, Jr. (1891) and Janet Camp Troxell (1897).

Following graduation from Yale, Camp became deeply involved in intercollegiate football and for thirty years was known as the outstanding football legislator and coach in America. He was a member of every football rules committee and convention until his death, a period of almost fifty years. Although he never coached a Yale team, he was Yale's "advisory coach," a coach of the coaches, the unpaid chief mentor and arbiter. And when his clock business interfered, another Camp got into the coaching act; his wife "Allie" Camp attended daily practice. Notebook in hand, she trotted up and down the sidelines and every evening gave Walter a detailed rundown on what each player had done, or failed to do. Their house became Yale's nocturnal football headquarters for discussions and strategies with the football captain and key players.

In 1882, to open up the game, Camp devised the revolutionary innovation by which, if a team had not advanced the ball five yards in three downs, the ball was turned over to the opponents on the spot of the fourth down. This was the rule which brought into the game the familiar "yards to gain," the cross lines of lime, and the name "gridiron." When asked how he would determine that the required number of yards had been made, Camp replied that he would line the field. "Gracious!" answered one of the members of the intercollegiate football rules committee, "the field will look like a gridiron." "Precisely," answered Camp.

In 1889 Walter Camp began his famous All-America football team selections in the paper The Week's Sport, edited by Charles E. Clay with Caspar W. Whitney as manager. His primary purpose was to increase public interest in the game of football which at that time was little known. He devised a reporting system throughout the country whereby football experts, coaches and sports writers would recommend the top players in their area, with pertinent statistics. The 1889 selections were all from the Big Three, three from Harvard, five from Princeton, and three from Yale (Gill, Heffelfinger and Stagg). No other "All-America" selections have ever created the interest or commanded the respect of those made by Camp. His choices were copied in the sports pages of almost all newspapers in the United States. Walter Camp's daughter, Janet, remembers that there was always great secrecy about the selections and the family lived for a few weeks each year at that time as if surrounded by spies, so eager were the newsmen to obtain the names before publication. The All-America fad spread and in 1908 there were some 36 different teams chosen throughout the country. As attested by Harold "Red" Grange, the immortal "Galloping Ghost" of the University of Illinois, one of only a select few to be named to the Camp All-America team three times (1923, 1924 and 1925), "Camp was the No. 1 name in football; if you weren't on the Camp team, it didn't mean a thing." [1]

Wholesale attacks upon football in the fall of 1892 on the grounds of brutality led to a strong demand from the public for the abolition of the game. Football had been discontinued at West Point and Annapolis and abolished at Harvard for one year. The attacks left parents of boys in an uncomfortable position as to what their duty was regarding playing the game. Early in 1893, Robert Bacon of the Harvard Board of Overseers asked Camp to chair a committee to look into the matter. The idea appealed to Camp and a committee composed of the Rev. Joseph Twichell of the Yale Corporation, the Rev. Endicott Peabody of Groton School, James W. Alexander of Princeton, the Hon. Henry E. Howland, Bacon and Camp attended a meeting in New York.

A plan of investigation was submitted and authorized, involving a questionnaire to secure opinions from headmasters of schools having a football program, and from players and others at colleges throughout the country, about the game of football. The specific questions dealt with the type of injuries, if any, and the physical and mental effects of playing the game. There were suggestions for a reduction in mass and momentum plays and changes in playing rules looking toward an increased premium on an open kicking game. All suggestions were submitted by Camp to the football rules committee, and in 1894 the "flying" plays were banned but the mass plays were continued. The report of the investigating committee, with detailed results of the questionnaire, is in Series II, WRITINGS.

At the turn of the century, public clamor continued for opening up the game and resulted in more open play rules. One was the introduction of the forward pass; although Camp did not approve of it initially, upon its adoption he became the first coach to use it successfully. Another was increasing the five yards to be gained in three downs to ten yards in four downs, a change which had the unmistakeable imprint of Walter Camp's mind.

Strong demands for the abolition of football from the public continued, however, and in 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt summoned Walter Camp and representatives from Harvard and Princeton to the White House and impressed upon them the necessity of meeting the public's reaction to football. For over ten years there had been periodic outcry against the roughness and brutality, and a demand for reform. Now the outcry swept across the country. The casualty list for the 1905 season was fearful. Eighteen had died and there were 149 serious injuries. Following the meeting, Camp and Alexander Moffat of Princeton came forward with a proposal that delegates from twenty-eight colleges meet in New York to pass resolutions for the preservation of football, to organize the National Collegiate Athletic Association and to appoint a football rules committee. In the making of the rules during the nineteen years that followed, and up to the very day of his death, Walter Camp was one of the dominating influences on the rules committee.

Camp's contribution to athletics was by no means confined to football. He was the moving spirit in the direction of athletics at Yale for many years, serving for fifteen years as treasurer of Yale Field, also as chairman of the Athletic Committee, and graduate adviser in athletics. For a quarter of a century, Yale's athletic policy was his policy.

He conceived and developed the system of one athletic treasury for all branches of sports, thus using receipts from football to support other sports which were not so popular with the public. As the treasurer of the Yale Financial Union, the athletic fund accumulated a surplus of more than $100,000.00 over a ten year period while other universities were having to make up a deficit for as large an amount.

In 1908 Yale gave Walter Camp an honorary degree of Master of Arts as her athletic adviser. A letter from Anson Phelps Stokes, Secretary of the University, stated, "At a meeting of the Yale Corporation it was voted to confer upon you privatim the degree of Master of Arts; this vote being passed in accordance with the standing rule to confer an M.A. degree upon persons of the rank of Professor who have no degree higher than a Bachelor's." Everett Lake, Connecticut's Lieutenant Governor, a former Harvard half-back who served on the Yale Corporation, made the motion awarding the degree.

And again, in 1915, Walter Camp was honored by his Alma Mater, when the Yale Corporation voted "to express the appreciation of the President and Fellows of the value of the services rendered by Mr. Camp to the University Corporation for the fifteen years during which he has served as Treasurer of Yale Field, Chairman of the Athletic Committee and Graduate Adviser in Athletics."

In the late 1880's Walter Camp began his long career as a journalist, author and editor, and he became one of the three or four highest-paid non-fiction writers of his time in America. He wrote more than 250 articles, mostly on athletics and physical fitness, for some twenty magazines including Collier's Weekly (a regular contributor for over twenty-five years), Harper's Weekly, Outing, Vanity Fair and Youth's Companion .

He was an editor for Spalding's Official Football Guide, Boy's Magazine and the Yale Alumni Magazine (until 1904). He wrote an untold number of articles for newspapers, including the Philadelphia Public Ledger and the Consolidated Press Association (1922-1924).

Author of over thirty books from 1891-1921, all but seven were non-fiction. Best known of the non-fiction were The Book of College Sports, American Football, and Football Facts and Figures . He edited a book series called "Library for Young People." Of the fiction, most popular were The Substitute and Jack Hall at Yale . His daughter remembers that "the orders just kept coming in for several years, and libraries were continually rebinding their copies." In addition, he collaborated with Everard Thompson, manager of the Ticket Department of the Yale University Football Association, in writing the "Frank Armstrong" series of six books of fiction. Camp used the pseudonym "Matthew M. Colton" rather than his own name because he considered the writing inferior to his other works. As a writer, Walter Camp was not a man who cared to have anything in print until it was as good as it could be made. The accurate technical knowledge in his books makes sports intelligible to outsiders and gives to athletes the authentic instruction of a successful coach. They stress principles of fair play, pluck, and honest persistence.

A skillful phrase maker, Camp had a talent for expressing an idea in a few words, and many of his aphorisms were widely quoted. He also wrote much doggerel, but also some good flowing verse. As a Yale senior, he won both the Ivy Ode and the Class Poem competitions.

On September 29, 1914, the following was printed in the most conspicuous place on the editorial page of the New York American newspaper:


Guard your shores and train your men,

Teach your growing youth to fight;

Make your plans ere once again

Ships of foes appear in sight.

Teach new arts until you hold

In your bounds all things you need;

Then you can't be bought or sold,

From commercial bonds be freed!

If Manhattan rich you'd save,

If your western Golden Gate -

Train a field force, rule the wave,

Every day you're tempting fate!

Build the ships and train to arms,

Make your millions fighting strength,

That shall frighten war's alarms

Ere they reach a challenge length!

Criticized by some, of course, as being militaristic, Camp's point was simply physical fitness for national preparedness. In April, 1917, just two and a half years later, he started the Senior Service Corps in New Haven. The Corps stressed physical fitness for men whose age was beyond that of active military service, and members devoted an hour a day three days a week to training consisting of setting-up drills (15 minutes) and marching (45 minutes). The Senior Service Corps quickly became a national movement with President Wilson as honorary president.

During the strenuous days which followed entry into World War I, Camp was assigned the difficult task of keeping the overworked members of Wilson's cabinet and other high government officials in good physical condition. This group came to be known as "The Walter Scamps," and included Frank L. Polk, State Department, John W. Davis, Solicitor General, Thomas N. Gregory, Attorney General, Franklyn K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, Daniel C. Roper, Tariff Commission, Paul Warburg, Federal Reserve Board, William B. Wilson, Secretary of Labor and Louis F. Post, Assistant Secretary, Oscar Crosby and Byron R. Newton, Assistant Secretaries of the Treasury, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Edwin F. Sweet, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Daniel Willard, Council of National Defense, Eustace Percy of the British Embassy, and others.

Some months later, Camp was put in charge of the physical development in all training camps of the United States Navy, and was also made a physical director of the United States Air Service.

During the war, Camp had been astonished and shocked by the high percentage of men rejected from service in the military due to physical unfitness. He confided to his friend, E. K. Hall, one-time chairman of the Football Rules Committee, that his greatest ambition was to help "to make the nation fit." Immediately after the war he set out to improve the situation with his famous health rules, "The Daily Dozen."

Walter Camp did not copyright the Daily Dozen; he gave it away with no thought of personal gain. He knew he had the material for a profitable course in body-building. Yet, he accepted an invitation from John M. Siddall, editor of the American Magazine, to present the exercises in its pages. By doing so he had destroyed his own ownership; the twelve movements were now available to millions, and the modest check he received from American Magazine was a tiny fraction of what he would have made by selling them as a physical culture course. "I have never made any money except by my business, my investments and my books", he said. "Any attempt on my part to make money out of the Daily Dozen would be regarded as an effort to capitalize my reputation in amateur athletics. If pushed commercially it would make a fortune but I know it will help people in private as it helped the naval recruits and the men in Washington. I would rather give it away."

The Daily Dozen exercises were published in newspapers, health magazines, physical culture manuals for schools, and broadsides from insurance companies and other businesses. More than 400,000 copies of a ten-cent pamphlet reprinted from Collier's were sold, with a modest royalty to Camp which he finally accepted after some hesitation. The exercises were included in Camp's book, "Keeping Fit All the Way," published by Harper and Brothers in 1919. In 1920 the Daily Dozen was the subject of a speech in the United States House of Representatives by Hon. John Q. Tilson and printed in the Congressional Record . And in 1921, near the end of his life, Camp wrote his last book, The Daily Dozen, published by the Reynolds Publishing Company. With an introduction by Dr. Samuel W. Lambert, eminent heart specialist, this book presented a great deal of Camp's philosophy of work and life.

Walter Camp took a keen interest in civic, state and national affairs, holding various offices including the presidency of the Civic Federation, chairmanship of the Recreation Committee of the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, and the chairmanship of the Welfare Committee of the Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. He was treasurer and trustee of the Hopkins Grammar School for a number of years. Never interested in political office, he was nevertheless mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for mayor of New Haven. And following the war he was honored by His Majesty Alexander I, King of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, who conferred upon him the Royal Decoration of the Order of Saint Sava IV "as a member of the Board of the Serbian Relief Fund."

Waving his usual cheery "goodbye" from the sidewalk to his wife and daughter, Walter Camp left for New York on Friday, March 13, 1925, for a regular meeting of the Intercollegiate Football Rules Committee of which he was secretary. During an overnight intermission between sessions he succumbed to angina pectoris which overtook him in his bed at the Belmont Hotel. His body was found by William W. Roper, Princeton football coach, and W. S. Langford of Trinity College, who had been sent to the Belmont after Camp failed to appear for the morning's meeting. Funeral services were held on March 16th at his residence, 460 Humphrey Street. The services were private and interment was in the Grove Street cemetery.

A memorial service was held at Battell Chapel at Yale on Monday of the 1925 Commencement Week. Addresses were made by Professor Charles W. Kennedy of Princeton, Dean LeBaron Russell Briggs of Harvard, and by Professor William Lyon Phelps of Yale. The last speaker was President Emeritus Arthur Twining Hadley, a friend of some forty years, who recalled Camp's breadth of intellectual interest, his high ideals of sportsmanship, and his clear-headed decisions on questions of athletic policy during the years Camp served Yale as Graduate Advisor in Athletics.

On November 3, 1928, at the Yale-Dartmouth football game, Yale dedicated the Walter Camp Memorial Gateway, a massive colonnade, erected at the entrance to the Yale playing fields, bearing his name in great blocks of stone. Designed by John W. Cross, Yale 1900, the cost ($300,000.00) was met by Yale alumni and matching funds from the National Collegiate Athletic Association on behalf of other universities, colleges and preparatory schools where football was played. Upon bronze tablets set into the walls flanking the arch appear, by states, the names of 224 colleges and 279 preparatory and high schools all over the nation that contributed to the memorial honoring the memory of the Father of American Football.

The widespread participation in the erection of this memorial was far more than a mere recognition of Walter Camp's noteworthy contribution to football and other sports. It represented a very real endorsement of the high standard of sportsmanship which Camp championed.

[1] Following Camp's death, All-America teams were selected by Grantland Rice until 1948. The Walter Camp Football Foundation resumed the selection in 1967.

From the guide to the Walter Chauncey Camp papers, 1870-1983, 1870-1925, (Manuscripts and Archives)


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  • Physical education and training
  • All--Star Football Game
  • Coaching (Athletics)
  • College sports
  • Football injuries
  • Football--Accidents and injuries
  • Athletics
  • Physical fitness
  • Exercise
  • Correspondence
  • Health
  • Material Types
  • Sports
  • Football--Rules


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  • New Haven (Conn.) (as recorded)
  • New Haven (Conn.) (as recorded)
  • New Haven (Conn.) (as recorded)