Interlude: Women’s Hockey during the Great War

While looking for more information on professional hockey players who served in WWI, a New York Times article on Girl’s hockey was buried in the search results. The article, “Girl’s hockey in brooklyn tonight”, stated that Mrs. Tom Howard would lead an exhibition game and other activities in support of the Ice Rink’s (Brooklyn Ice Palace) employees. The game occurred on April 13th, 1917.  The rink closed on the 14th. Although the news article didn’t explain, a Brooklyn Library blogger stated the rink was ordered to shut down to save on ammonia, which is used in creating artificial ice and munitions. But the information begged a bigger question. Who is Mrs. Tom Howard and How popular was women’s hockey in WWI.

As the NHL was finishing its century of hockey, women’s hockey is starting to pick back up. again. In honor of the WNHL, The Bustle published a great high level history of women’s hockey. For a more detailed look, Lynda Baril published a great book on women’s hockey in Quebec. And, Andrew Holman detailed the issues surrounding women’s hockey in 1920s. Currently, the Canadian Women’s Hockey  League (CWHL) and National Women’s Hockey Leage (NWHL) pay their players harkening back to the early 1900s.

Going back to the first question, Mrs. Thomas A. Howard hasn’t revealed herself, yet. Thomas Acheson “Attie” Howard is fairly well documented. A Stanley Cup winner with the Winnipeg Victorias, he moved to New York in 1899. He eventually ended up endorsing a hockey stick and writing a book on hockey and winter sports for Spaulding Co. He had two son, Thomas Jr. and Jack. Finally, he died in Los Angeles in 1945. In all of the documentation reviewed, there is only a “Howard, wife” (1920 New York Census) or Mrs. Thomas A. Howard (NYT, April 13 1917). Even his death certificate doesn’t list his wife or sons. For now, the mystery of Mrs. Thomas A. Howard remains. Hopefully, I’ll learn more about women’s hockey in uncovering her identity.

Background Reading:
1. Women’s National Hockey League: https://www.nwhl.zone/
2. Canadian Women’s Hockey League: http://www.thecwhl.com/
3. https://www.bustle.com/articles/115804-the-history-of-womens-ice-hockey-is-long-full-of-even-longer-skirts-heres

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