Elsie Jobe: Shaping Strong Women at Tech

By Cailyn Douglas

Elsie Etta Jobe was the Director of Physical Education for women, the Dean of Women, and the women’s basketball coach at Tennessee Tech (1928-1969). She dedicated much of her life to women’s sports and wellness and was committed to finding funding to create better physical education and intramural opportunities for women.

Elsie Etta Jobe (1903-1992) was born in Shiloh, Tenn. to parents Albert Wayne and Mollie Harvey Jobe. As one of seven children, she grew up in Clarksville, Tenn., and received her early education here. After graduating from Clarksville High School, she entered George Peabody College for Teachers, eventually receiving her Bachelors in 1924. Following her graduation from Peabody, she began teaching at Tennessee Polytechnic Institute for just one short year, joining the Physical Education Department. After this year, she moved to Jacksonville, Alabama, where she taught at the State Teachers College of Jacksonville from 1925 to 1927. Following these two years in Jacksonville, Jobe then moved back to her home state of Tennessee, and once again joined Tech as a professor where she remained for the rest of her teaching career.

Jobe featured amongst women’s intramural and women’s club pictures from the 1947 Eagle

Serving as the acting Dean of Women from 1928 to 1939 and the first Dean of Women from 1935 to 1939, Jobe took great interest in the success of women at the university. As the women’s basketball coach until 1933, when women’s varsity sports were removed from the university and replaced with intramurals, Jobe contributed much of her time to the progression of women’s athletics at Tech. After the removal of women’s collegiate sports, Jobe began working on the women’s intramural program and various student clubs and organizations that supported women’s sports. These programs would see growth under her leadership. The Eagle yearbook of 1941 reads, “Intercollegiate sports for girls are not sponsored at Tech, but they may compete with each other in intramurals,” which included folk dancing, tumbling, basketball, badminton, bridge, and archery. Jobe filled the role of Director of Physical Education for Women as well as Director of Intramural Activities for Women. She also participated in fundraising for various sports teams and regularly requested more funding from the University to support her efforts.

Tennessee Polytechnic Institute Department of Health and Physical Education

Outside of sports, she was involved in many religious organizations including being a sponsor of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) as well as being a member of the “religious activities” organization on campus. Additionally, Jobe served on many faculty committees including Student Employment Committee, Student Activities Committee, Student Homes Committee, and the Scholarship, Loans, and Self-Help Committee. Jobe also sponsored many organizations on campus including the Palladian’s Club, Sponsor of the Freshman Class, and the Health and Physical Education Club, which represented one of the largest organizations on campus at the time. In the community of Cookeville, Jobe participated in various activities such as being a member of the Book Lovers Club, which had a great impact on the area during the time due to the membership of notable Tennesseans such as Clara Cox Epperson and Graeme McGregor Smith.

Alberta Avenue and Pearl Street Land Plot

Jobe further devoted herself to the success of women at the university by serving as dorm mother in the women’s dormitory (Kittrell Hall at the time) and being elected President of the Tech chapter of the American Association of University Women. Additionally, she directed and organized multiple elaborate May Day programs and festivities, in order to celebrate the May queen.

By devoting nearly half of her life to the University and the success of the women who attend, Elsie Jobe earned the title of the University’s “Little Mother”, lovingly given to her by the Eagle yearbook staff of 1933. She retired in 1969, after 44 years at Tech. Elise Jobe passed in 1982 at the age of 88. She was buried in her hometown of Clarksville, Tenn. Today, she is honored on campus by the Jobe Hall and the Elsie Jobe and Jewell Nolen Endowed Scholarship. Elsie Jobe and Jewell Nolen, also in the Health and Physical Education department, shared a property and home on Alberta Avenue and Pearl Street in Cookeville, Tenn. while they were at Tennessee Tech and following retirement.

Primary Sources
The Eagle yearbook, Tennessee Technological University, 1969.

The Eagle yearbook, Tennessee Technological University, 1933.

The Eagle yearbook, Tennessee Technological University, 1994.

The Eagle yearbook, Tennessee Technological University, 1955.

Elsie Etta Jobe (1903-1992) – find a grave… Find a Grave. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/116933382/elsie-etta-jobe?_gl=1%2A1b6gcw9%2A_ga%2ANDc2MTEwMTg5LjE2NzU5NjEyNjI.%2A_ga_4QT8FMEX30%2AZmE5NTdjOGMtMTZiNC00NzgwLWI1MDktOTIwMzk0NmZjN2YwLjQuMS4xNjc5NDkyNzYxLjQyLjAuMA

Nolen, J. (1972). History of Book Lovers Club, 1922-1972.

Neufeldt, H. G., & Dickinson, W. C. (1991). The Search for Identity: A History of Tennessee Technological University, 1915-1985. Memphis State University Press.

The Oracle, Vol. 3 No. 13 February 1, 1925.

The Oracle, Vol. 5 No. 2 October 10, 1927.

The Oracle, Vol. 10 No. 2 October 19, 1932.

The Oracle, Vol. 22 November 8, 1944.

The Oracle, Vol. 23 No. 1 September 26, 1945.

The Oracle, Vol. 47 No. 7 November 7, 1969.

RG 10 Harding Studio negatives, Safety Negatives, Box 19.

RG 10 Harding Studio negatives, Safety Negatives, Freezer Box 17.

Scholarship search. Scholarships Search. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://tntech.scholarships.ngwebsolutions.com/Scholarships/Search

Search US Census Records Online: GenealogyBank. Genealogy, Family History & Ancestry Search. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2023, from https://www.genealogybank.com/explore/census/all?lname=jobe&fname=elsie&state%5B%5D= tennessee&pq=1&prebuy=no&intver=7D_6M&CCPRODCODE=&s_trackval=&s_referrer=&s_ siteloc=&kbid=69919

Smith, A. W. (1957). The Story of Tennessee Tech. McQuiddy Print. Co.

The Bulletin, Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, 1938-39.

The Bulletin, Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, 1940-41.

The Bulletin, Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, 1945-46.

About University Archives

Archives and Special Collections resides in Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library on the first floor. The collection includes materials of legal, fiscal and historical significance to Tennessee Tech University and documents the history of the Upper Cumberland Region. The collection includes over 2,500 cubic feet of manuscripts, photographs, and archives from Tennessee Tech as well as surrounding people, businesses, and organizations of the Upper Cumberland. The collection contains books on the history and culture of the Upper Cumberland Region of Tennessee.
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