Material Culture in Volleyball: Developments Throughout the 20th Century

Ever since the sport of volleyball was created my William Morgan in 1895, developments have rapidly advanced as the sport has gained notoriety around the world. 

This exhibit will be organized into 3 separate volleyball "eras" throughout the 20th century. First, we will explore some of the rules and terminology used to gain a better understanding of the sport. We will also look at individual equipment pieces that saw changes with the introduction of new rules and strategies.


This era, which includes the year volleyball was introduced in America, sees a very elementary version of the sport with few technological considerations. Early introduction to strategy in the 1920s and early 30s allowed for some players to excel both on court and sand. It is during this time that the sport would also see introduction to European countries and Canada, with the latter seeing an introduction in Ontario through the YMCA. 


In this period volleyball was beginning to gain notoriety in North America and Europe. The second world war saw the spread of the sport on beaches where the US Navy would play games during breaks in their duties spreading it to locals. After the war, in 1947, the Federation Internationale de Volleyball was created which would govern the many international tournaments to occur in the following years leading to today.


This final period sees volleyball evolving to the point as we acknowledge it today. The drastic evolution of strategy and international tournaments created the volleyball market which attributed to its massive growth. Additionally, by the end of the century, we see a more universal set of norms for both male and female players regarding uniform and play.


The last section will be attributed to specific pieces of equipment in volleyball by exploring the purposes of their development throughout the years and other important information.