These historical photographs show German women practicing the Swedish Gymnastics in Hamburg. The pictures were taken between 1902 and 1910 by Heinrich Hamann. A keen gymnast, Heinrich Hamann portrayed many athletes in action. We see the women exercising in a sports hall and on the Heiligengeistfeld (German: “field of the Holy Spirit”) in Hamburg’s St. Pauli quarter.
Swedish Gymnastics, also known as Swedish Drill, was founded in the early 1800s by poet, theology, and European languages Pehr Henrik Ling. His goal was to promote exercise as a means of restoring public health. In 1813, Ling was appointed by the Swedish government to establish the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics (RCIG) in Stockholm. The RCIG’s curriculum also included the study of human anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology. Subsequently, graduates often espoused the superior scientific credentials of the Swedish Gymnastics system. He also wrote a detailed book about ‘The Essential Principles of Gymnastics.’