Barbells and Bios

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Cover of the book The Magnificent Sandow: Eugen Sandow and the Beginnings of Bodybuilding, depicting strongman Eugen Sandow in a front single biceps pose, by David L. Chapman.

Barbells & Bios: David Chapman, Sandow the Magnificent (Original Manuscript)

Few scholars of physical culture and bodybuilding more generally will be unfamiliar with the name Eugen Sandow. Known by many as the father of modern bodybuilding, Sandow helped to popularize health, exercise and weight training to large swathes of individuals in Great Britain, the United States and further afield. He counted Kings and Queens as...

July 22, 2020September 10, 2020
Autographed photograph of bodybuilder Pudgy Stockton posing, in a bikini, while wearing iron boots, from the Pudgy and Les Stockton Collection.

Barbells & Bios: The Abbye (Pudgy) Eville Stockton and Les Stockton Papers

Abbye ‘Pudgy’ Stockton played a central role in popularizing physical culture and exercise for women in the central decades of the twentieth century. Famed for her hand balancing routine at Muscle Beach with her husband Les, Pudgy Stockton has been rightly credited by many as one of the leading proponents of female weightlifting and physical...

July 8, 2020February 19, 2020
The cover of Bernarr Macfadden's physical culture magazine, Physical Culture, from February 1910, featuring a photograph of Macfadden.

Barbells & Bios: Physical Culture Magazine

Established by American physical culturist Bernarr MacFadden in late 1899, Physical Culture Magazine was one of the most iconic American health, weight lifting and physical culture magazines of the early twentieth century. Covering everything from health and diet to fictional short stories, Physical Culture is a deeply rich resource for scholars of health, physical culture, gender, sport and American...

June 17, 2020February 19, 2020
Painting of bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, who played the Incredible Hulk on television, in a front double biceps pose, by Thomas Beecham, from the Thomas Beecham Collection; donated by Joe and Betty Weider.

Barbells & Bios: The Thomas Beecham Collection

One of the most iconic images of the Stark Center, aside from the Farnese Hercules, is undoubtedly the Thomas Beecham collection of paintings. Done by the painter Thomas Beecham for Joe Weider, Beecham’s painted several portraits of famed bodybuilders from the 1960s to 1980s. Eight in total, the paintings depicted the awarded winning physiques of...

June 3, 2020February 19, 2020
Cover of the book Eternal Health Truths of a Century Ago, edited by naturopathic doctor Christopher Gian-Cursio, from the Sydell Herbst-Christopher Gian-Cursio Collection.

Barbells & Bios: The Sydell Herbst–Christopher Gian-Cursio Collection

Born in Rochester, New York in 1910, Christopher Gian-Cursio was one of America’s most outspoken, popular and reviled commentators on alternative medicine. Trained at Dr. Benjamin Lust’s American School of Naturopathy, Gian-Cursio came to practice what he termed Natural Hygiene for several decades. Like many practitioners of alternative medicine at this time, Gian-Cursio was against...

May 20, 2020February 19, 2020
Drawing of a woman playing field hockey in 1920s attire, from the pages of The Sportswoman magazine, from the Anna Hiss Collection.

Barbells & Bios: The Sportswoman Magazine

Published for several decades, beginning in the 1920s, The Sportswoman marks one of the earlier, and indeed, most fascinating insights into female sport in America in the first half of the twentieth century. Part of the Stark’s Anna Hiss Collection, the magazine covered a range of women’s sports including, but not limited to field hockey, lacrosse, badminton...

April 22, 2020February 19, 2020
Cover of the book Giovanni Belzoni: Strong Man, Egyptologist, by Colin Clair.

Barbells & Bios: Giovanni Belzoni, Strong Man Egyptologist

Published by Colin Clair in 1957, Giovanni Belzoni – Strong Man Egyptologist is a dramatized account of one of the nineteenth century’s most fascinating characters. An early strongman by trade who travelled around Britain and Ireland, Belzoni made his fame as exploring Egypt and reporting back to the British press. Based primarily on Belzoni’s own travels accounts,...

April 8, 2020February 19, 2020

Barbells & Bios: Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book

  As an avid, but unsuccessful golfer, I have a deep appreciation for those skilled in the sport. In a career spanning several decades, Penick was involved with the game at every level. From 1913 to 1923 he caddied at the Austin Country Club.  In 1923 he became the head professional right out of high school. ...

March 20, 2020March 10, 2020