SOKOL. Sokol, a Czech organization that began in Prague, Bohemia, in 1862 and was brought to this country by Czechs, is an educational organization dedicated to the physical, mental, and cultural advancement of its members and the children who use its gymnasiums. It is based upon the theory that only physically fit, mentally alert, and culturally well-developed citizens can form a healthy, strong nation. The organization was founded by Dr. Miroslav Tyr_, a teacher in the physical education institute of Jan Malypetr in Prague, who modeled his institution on the physical education of ancient Greece. His cofounder was Jindrich Feugner. The word sokol means "falcon." The first Sokol in the United States was formed in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1865, the first in Texas in Ennis in 1908. By 1909 Sokol units had been organized in Shiner, Hallettsville, and Granger. Others followed in Waco, Dallas, Fort Worth, Penelope, Guy, Seaton, Buckholts, Houston, Crosby, Rowena, Galveston, Corpus Christi, Placedo, Floresville, San Antonio, and East Bernard. Many units disbanded during the Great Depression. In 1930 there were fourteen. In 1985 units were located in Corpus Christi, Dallas, Ennis, Fort Worth, Houston, and West. Modern gymnasiums are the trademark of Sokol, and gymnastics is part of the Sokol philosophy of mixing mental, moral, cultural, and physical training. At the end of 1984, Sokol members older than seventeen numbered 1,086 in the southern district, which includes Texas and Oklahoma and is the fourth largest of the six districts in the United States.
Clinton Machann and James W. Mendl, Krásná Amerika: A Study of the Texas Czechs, 1851–1939 (Austin: Eakin Press, 1983). Mollie Emma Stasney, The Czechs in Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1938).
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Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 4, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.