Outrageous Ambitions: How a One-Room Schoolhouse Became a Research University

Athletics Through the Years

Today, Duke is best known as a basketball powerhouse, but the school’s roots in athletics go back to the 19th century, and cover a wide range of men’s and women’s sports.

Lapel pin featuring the phrase "La Gloire des Diables Bleus" (translation: the glory of the Blue Devils).  Les Diables Bleus were a French regiment that became famous during World War I.  The Duke Blue Devils borrowed their name from the regiment.

La Gloire des Diables Bleus lapel pin

La Gloire des Diables Bleus lapel pin

The Blue Devil became Trinity College’s official mascot around 1921.  The Chasseurs Alpins, a famous French military regiment during World War I, called themselves “les Diables Bleus” and wore distinctive blue uniforms. As the war was ending in Europe, so was Trinity’s nearly 25 year football ban, and the Trinity Chronicle ran a contest to determine the mascot for the team.  The Blue Devils were chosen from among nominations of Blue Titans, Blue Eagles, Polar Bears, Blue Devils, Royal Blazes, and the Blue Warriors.

Handmade doll modeled after Duke's mascot, the Blue Devil.

Blue Devil Doll

Blue Devil Doll

The Blue Devil became Trinity College’s official mascot around 1921.  The Chasseurs Alpins, a famous French military regiment during World War I, called themselves “les Diables Bleus” and wore distinctive blue uniforms. As the war was ending in Europe, so was Trinity’s nearly 25 year football ban, and the Trinity Chronicle ran a contest to determine the mascot for the team.  The Blue Devils were chosen from among nominations of Blue Titans, Blue Eagles, Polar Bears, Blue Devils, Royal Blazes, and the Blue Warriors.

Trinity Baseball Uniform Top

Trinity Baseball Uniform Top

Trinity Baseball Uniform Top

Trinity College baseball uniform from the 1910s.  The uniform is made of heavy wool. The color of the word "Trinity" across the chest would have been a dark blue (similar to that seen on the stirrups), but has faded.

A football game at Trinity College in the 1920s.  The game is being played on what is now East Campus, but was at the time the main Trinity College campus.  The game occurred before the construction of Wallace Wade Stadium, and likely before Duke University was created in 1924.

Football in the 1920s

Football in the 1920s

A football contest during the 1926-1927 season.  The game is being played on what is now East Campus.

Original clapper from the Victory Bell.

Victory Bell Original Clapper

Victory Bell Original Clapper

In the 1960s, Duke students stole the Victory Bell clapper after a UNC victory.  Nearly 30 years later, the alumnus who held the stolen clapper donated it to the Duke University Archives.

Head cheerleaders from Duke and UNC shake over the Victory Bell, surrounded by other cheerleaders and their respective mascots.  The Victory Bell is passed back and forth each year to the winner of the Duke-UNC football game.

Victory Bell, 1948

Victory Bell, 1948

One of the most storied Duke athletic rivalries is that of Duke and UNC football.  Each year, the winner of the game takes possession of the “Victory Bell” until the teams meet again.  The Victory Bell was built by the 1948 head cheerleaders from Duke, Loring Jones, and UNC, Norman Sper.

Women at Duke play baseball on May 6, 1939.  They are playing on what is currently the field hockey field on East Campus (then known as the Woman's College campus).  The women's baseball team was sponsored by the Women's Athletic Association.

Women's Baseball, 1939

Women's Baseball, 1939

Women have played a large role in the athletic fiber of Duke for decades.  This photograph shows members of the women's baseball team in 1939.  The team existed during the 1930s and 1940s, when women's baseball was popular across the country due to World War II overseas.

Two women play baseball on the Woman's College campus at Duke University (now East Campus) in 1941.

Women's Baseball, 1941

Women's Baseball, 1941

Women have played a large role in the athletic fiber of Duke for decades.  This photograph shows members of the women's baseball team in 1939.  The team existed during the 1930s and 1940s, when women's baseball was popular across the country due to World War II overseas.

Basketball signed by every member of the 1992 NCAA National Champions men's basketball team.

1992 National Champions Team Basketball

1992 National Champions Team Basketball

This ball is signed by members of the 1992 NCAA National Championship team, including Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, and Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Basketball signed by each member of the 1992 NCAA National Champions men's basketball team.

1992 National Champions Basketball (photo 2)

1992 National Champions Basketball (2)

This ball is signed by members of the 1992 NCAA National Championship team, including Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, and Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Basketball signed by each member of the 1992 NCAA National Champions men's basketball team.

1992 National Champions Basketball (photo 3)

1992 National Champions Basketball (3)

This ball is signed by members of the 1992 NCAA National Championship team, including Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, and Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Athletics Through the Years