Thomas K. Cureton, Jr

By Shea, Edward J. | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, March 1993 | Go to article overview

Thomas K. Cureton, Jr


Shea, Edward J., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


During his lifetime, Thomas K. Cureton, Jr. was one of the most extraordinary and renowned recipients of national and international recognition for professional achievements and contributions toward improving the physical dimension of humankind. Cureton created a priority of health, physical development, and human efficiency in movement at its foundation, as exhibited in his writing, research, and professional activities.

Born in 1901 in Florida, Cureton's early years in Jacksonville were marked by a high degree of participation in physical activities, principally running and swimming, interests he continued for the remainder of his life. Uncertain of the direction his life should take, Cureton entered the Georgia School of Technology and studied engineering. He transferred to the Sheffield School of Engineering at Yale University in 1922. It was there that he became fascinated by the physiological research performed on the members of the Yale rowing team, which won the 1924 Olympic gold medal. As a member of the Yale swimming team, he was greatly influenced by the methods of training and conditioning of Yale athletes by his swimming coach, Robert J.H. Kiphuth, and by his teacher of neurological anatomy.

After receiving his engineering degree, he entered the International Young Mens Christian Association College at Springfield College in Massachusetts. At Springfield College (1929-1941), he received his bachelor's and master's degrees in physical education and moved from his positions as swimming coach and director of the research lab in biophysics, anthropometry, and kinesiology, to director of graduate studies. While in these positions he completed requirements for the doctorate of philosophy degree at Columbia University. His work at Springfield culminated in the production of the monograph, Physical Fitness, published by Research Quarterly in May, 1941--a work considered to be a milestone in the literature of physical education.

His move in 1941 to the College of Physical Education at the University of Illinois placed him into an intense environment of intellectual challenge accompanied by favorable conditions for research. …

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