James Naismith – Original Rules of Basketball

March 05, 2011 - June 12, 2011

Locations: Nelson-Atkins Building, Kirkwood Hall

In the winter of 1891, James Naismith, a young college physical education teacher at a Massachusetts YMCA, needed to alleviate the boredom of his indoor classes.

A skilled athlete and dedicated teacher, Naismith invented a new game that was both recreational and tapped into the students’ natural instincts for play. He realized he needed a set of rules, which he quickly devised and had typed. As the students arrived, they could read the 13 rules that had been thumbtacked to the gymnasium wall.

With two peach baskets nailed 10 feet off the ground and a ball, Naismith was ready for the inaugural contest. The rules provided then, as now, the fundamental structure of the game that is basketball.

In 1898, Naismith brought basketball to the University of Kansas, when he became the university’s first professor of physical education and for a short period, the varsity basketball coach.

It is through the generosity of David Booth and Suzanne Deal Booth that the public has been given this rare opportunity to view the Rules of Basket Ball at the Nelson-Atkins.

Exhibition is supported by The Hall Family Foundation and Sprint.