Shorts worn as part of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader uniform, 2016

Shorts worn as part of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader uniform, 2016

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Description (Brief)
White polyester shorts worn as part of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader uniform, 2011. Originally designed by Leslie Van Wagoner of the Lester Melnick store in Dallas, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders signature uniform is a carefully guarded trademark. Specifically tailored to fit each individual cheerleader, the signature blouse, vest and shorts were hand made by Leveta Crager until the mid-1990s and are now made by Lisa Dobson.
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have been cheering the team on since the Cowboys football team’s inception in 1961 but it wasn’t until 1972 that the iconic uniforms were created. With the distinctive uniforms and specialized dance moves, the cheerleaders soon became icons of popular culture producing the first poster to feature cheerleaders in 1977 and appearing in three television shows that same year. They began their international activities in 1978 when the NFL wanted to promote American football abroad and they chose the cheerleaders as their ambassadors. Their show group travels the world demonstrating their Texas spirit and pride in their football team and their country.
A decidedly American invention, cheerleading has its origins in sports and education. Beginning as early as 1877, fans organized cheers in the stands at Princeton football games but it was not until the 1930s when Gussie Nell Davis, a physical education teacher at Greenville High in Texas, saw the need to involve girls in physical activity. Participation in organized sports was not readily available to girls at this time - the Flaming Flashes and later, the Kilgore Rangerettes of Kilgore College in Texas, both organized by Davis, provided a sense of unity and empowerment through athleticism. Until Title IX, cheerleading was among the few sports available at the high school and collegiate levels that provided opportunities for women.
Currently not on view
Object Name
shorts, cheerleading
date made
Physical Description
fabric, polyester (overall material)
metal (overall material)
rhinestones (overall material)
overall: 8 1/2 in x 15 in; 21.59 cm x 38.1 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Sport and Leisure
Sports & Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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