Original Document
Original Document
Excerpts from the Constitution and By-Laws of the Philadelphia Gymnastic Club, Philadelphia, PA, 1872


The North American Gymnastic Union (Turnerbund) aspires to support, through the unification of all clubs supporting this platform, the efforts these clubs undertake to make their members men of strong bodies and free spirits. It is its special task to give its members, through the use of all the means at its disposal, a: proper understanding of the efforts at radical reform in social, political, and religious arenas, to assist in their realization, as well as in the protection of the rights with which men were born.

This union shall be a nursery for all ideas, which arise from a natural, and therefore a rational, view of the world. The gymnasts will fight every effort to limit freedom of conscience, along with all efforts to abridge human rights, for these are not reconcilable with truly humane and democratic principles.

The gymnastic union sees in the manner in which public affairs are handled in most cases in this country a great danger to the development of true freedom; therefore it is the duty of individual clubs to undertake the education of their members about the outstanding political questions of the day, and to oppose political corruption as much as they can.

Further, it is the duty of this union to the best of its ability to support all efforts to expand adult education, and to promote as much as possible a free and ethical education for young people through founding and supporting good schools ....


Rules of Gymnastics

1. The Gymnastic Director (Turnwart), along with the Club Trainers (Vorturner), will maintain the proper order on the training field, and each gymnast is obligated to follow their orders.

2. It is the duty of every gymnast, when not prevented by serious reasons, to appear regularly on the training ground. The reason for failure to appear must be given to the Gymnastic Director at the latest on the first evening of training following the .missed session. Whoever misses three sessions in one month without good reasons will, in the first instance, be invited to appear before the club's Executive Council. In case of repetition of such behavior, he is to be barred from the club for a period of three months.

3. No one should execute without help any exercise which he has not properly learned, or with which he is not familiar. Also, no one should exercise on a horizontal crossbar he can not reach by standing or jumping.

4. The Gymnastic Director, as he wishes, must cither take roll call himself and notify the missing gymnasts or let the Club Trainers do so.

5. The Club Trainers and their assistants will train on a certain day of the week under the leadership of the Gymnastic Director.

6. No one is permitted in the exercise area during a training evening who is not taking part in the exercising, with the exception of those who can not participate because of illness, or passive members of the club. Guests may attend only if accompanied by a member; they must be introduced to the Gymnastic Director, who must show them seats where they will not disturb the gymnasts in their exercising;

7. The club will decide when to hold training sessions.

3. Rules of Gymnastic Squads
1. The gymnasts will be divided up into various squads by the Gymnastic Director, who will likewise select the Club Trainers to lead them.

2. It is the duty of the Trainers not to demonstrate any exercises which are beyond the ability of the group, and also to pay special attention to, and make them aware of, proper handgrips.

3. Each individual must copy, or attempt to copy, each exercise demonstrated by the Trainers.

4. Following the call to line up, each individual must take the place assigned him and proceed in order to the apparatus as indicated.

5. There will be no talking during squad training except that relevant to the issue at hand. No one may leave his squad without informing the Club Trainer.

6. The Gymnastic Director will give the signal for individual practice (Kurturnen), as well as for squad shifting and starting.

7. Each Trainer must see to it that the movable apparatus is returned to its assigned place.

8. Only one individual may train on one piece of apparatus. Each without exception must comply with the call "Make Way!"

4. Gymnastic School


To prevent one- sided development, to give the body a calm and strong bearing and the upbringing an enduring foundation, a gymnastic school for children will be created as an opportunity to strengthen and perfect their young bodies through healthy training, as well as to familiarize them early with order and proper behavior.

Stipulations for Application and Acceptance
2. a] Only children older than six years will be accepted ....

4. The gymnastic school will be led by a gymnastic teacher chosen by the club and its executive council. Nominations for this position should be made in a regular club assembly, however other names may be added by the club on the day the vote is taken. The gymnastic teacher is chosen for a term of one year. The gymnastic teacher must in regard to his students:
a] Pay attention to maintaining proper behavior and strict order.
b] Be intent on the harmonious development of the body through systematic gymnastic training.
c] Take special care to only use appropriate instructional methods.
d] Offer sessions at the time established by the club's Executive Council.
e] Select necessary assistants with the. approval of the club's Executive Council.
F] Go to the club's Executive Council with any desires or complaints.
g] Have the right to expel from a session any student who, after three warnings, still does not maintain discipline; in case of repetition, to bar this student for eight days; and incase of a third offense, to bring this student's name to the club's Executive Council for exclusion from the list. The person who proposed the student for membership, or a member of the club, may appeal such an expulsion to the club's Executive Council.

The club's Executive Council must give a report to the club every three months about the status of the gymnastic school.

The club will appoint the Gymnastic Teacher along with a helper for every thirty students.

Gymnastic Rules
5. a] The Gymnastic Teacher will maintain the proper order on the training field, and each student is obligated to follow his orders.
b) Each student who is absent from the training field should bring an appropriate excuse from his parents or guardians to the following training session.
c] No student should execute any exercise which he has not properly learned, or with which he is not familiar, without help from the teacher. Also, no one should exercise on a horizontal bar whose crossbar he can not reach by standing or jumping.
d] The premises will not be opened before the time specified for instruction.
e] Entrance to the training area is closed to non-students.
f] Students must leave the premises in an orderly and quiet fashion after the end of sessions.
6. Gymnastic students have the right to free sketch classes.

The purpose of the Youth Clubs is to cultivate physically and morally strong youth, to familiarize them with proper gymnastic club life as well as with parliamentary procedures, and in them and through them to uphold and propagate a respectable lifestyle for Gennan youth.

Organization and Administration
2; Youth between the ages of 16 and 21, who desire to attain the above-stated goal, will organize themselves as an autonomous entity, create a constitution, and attend to club business with the assistance of committee chosen by the men's club from among its members.

Credit: Gennan Society of Pennsylvania. Translation by Claire E. Nolte
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