Restored 1930s 16mm Footage of UM Football - Help with Exact Date?

Submitted by Red_Lee on December 8th, 2011 at 1:19 PM

I know someone will be kind and embed the video below. Basically the Ann Arbor company, Priceless Photo Preservation, needs help pinpointing the exact date of the footage they just restored. It's pretty cool footage, although the audio is kind of annoying.


Over/under on number of MGoPosters damning the student section for not showing up?



December 8th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

It will be hard to pin this one down.  It is obviously after 1926 (Michigan Stadium) and obviously before 1938 (our helmets don't have wings).  So...1927-1937.

The only other clue is that the person punting is (I'm pretty sure) #23.  The problem is that I don't know if that's a Michigan player or an opponent.  The only two years that Michigan had a #23 that saw enough playing time to earn a varsity letter were 1935 and 1937--a backup halfback named Robert Campbell.  He did see the field even though he was not a starter, and it's at least plausible that he punted when he was in the game,   Of course, if that punter is an opponent, none of this means anything.

Definitely 1927-1937, but probably closer to the end of that range.  Also, judging by the nice weather and the fact that the shadows of the goal posts are pointing east but not very far north, the game was earlier in the year.  Probably mid-October or before, although I would guess that somebody somewhere could calculate a possible range of dates.


December 8th, 2011 at 7:23 PM ^

I don't know much about historical Michigan Football attendance - but from MVictors I know we won back-to-back national titles in 1932 and '33. Which was immediately followed by the worst three year stretch in program history from '34-'36. Is it fair to assume that we'd probably have pretty good attendance in that stadium until the last few home games of 1934, at which point our attendance would drop to a half empty stadium as shown in the video?

I feel like the white uniforms should be a good clue of whom the away team is. I was under the impression that at the time everybody wore dark colors all the time - and that pants and helmets were usually always brown, with the sweaters/jersey being the only different colors. An all-white uniform has to stand out pretty big time to a football historian.


December 8th, 2011 at 8:45 PM ^

from Wikipedia, there are attendance figures that go all the way back to the Regents Field Days. In the '20s and '30s, it was common for the stadium to be mostly empty except for the big-time opponents - Navy, Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota to note a few. Even the Chicago Maroons seemed to have lost their luster by then.


December 8th, 2011 at 3:51 PM ^

At 0:45 There's a #30 visible deep in the backfield during some sort of run play.  I can't figure out his role but if he's a #30 during the time of #23 Robert Campbell then for 1936-38 he has to be Robert P Piotrowski - 5'11"  157 lb HB (which he looks to be larger than in the video). Otherwise for 1935 it would have to be another HB: George A Bolas of unknown height weighing 162... again sounding to small and not seeming to make sense having a HB that far from the action especially with someone else running the ball.


I'm also assuming that since #23 and #30 are facing the same direction that they are on the same team (and that that team is Michigan) and that the footage was shot all around the same time so the teams had not changed sides. 


An alternate scenario is that the players could be from 1933 when we had 2 QBs  (assuming VR means varsity reserve?) but #30 would be 5'7" 152 and again that looks wrong.


December 8th, 2011 at 4:08 PM ^

What I've decided from looking at team photos from the late 1930s is that Michigan is the team with the numbers that contrast poorly with their shirts. 

One team in that film has white or very light numbers, and the other team has darker (maize?) numbers.  #30 at 45 seconds appears to be on the "white numbers" team, but #23 at 32 seconds appears to be on the "maize numbers" team.  Some players are wearing light socks and some are wearing dark socks, but I can't decide whether that is a team thing or not.  It looks to me like less than half the players have the light socks, so I don't think we can use that as an identifier.

Yes, "vr" means "Varsity Reserve", but looking at some box scores from the day, that doesn't necessarily mean they didn't play with the varsity.  Some (but not all) listed as "vr" got varsity playing time.


December 8th, 2011 at 6:20 PM ^

Someone with access to band historical archives might be able to provide additional dating information. Uniform styles change dramatically from time to time and might indicate a time window.

William D. Revelli became band director in 1935. The marching style does not seem to match his signature high step style, but that may have evolved over the years, so that is not a definitive clue.


December 8th, 2011 at 6:37 PM ^

And it is also possible that the band shown is not the Michigan band. I have seen photos as early as 1920 in which the band wore the cape style uniforms that were predominant throughout band history. The belted miliary style is more indicative of Ohio State. Bands did travel in that era. A 1932 photo shows the MMB performing the script Ohio in Columbus. There were no white belts on the uniforms.


December 8th, 2011 at 10:27 PM ^

Michigan Daily, October 5, 1936:

"Providing the only bright spot in an otherwise dreary afternoon for Michigan football fans, the University Band, newly garbed in military coats and showing almost as many formations as both football teams, proved that Michigan need not be ashamed when the band goes to Philadelphia November 7 for the Quaker game."

So that could be Michigan's band...



December 9th, 2011 at 12:29 AM ^

Two things make me think it's the 1937 Michigan-Minnesota game:

-at the 0:24 mark, the leading band member behind the drum major displays a flag with a "pointy-topped" M. Doesn't that look like the "Old Gopher M" here? If so, that's the Minnesota band!

-If the October date is accurate, there is only one time prior to the winged helmets where the Gophers visited Michigan Stadium in October - October 16, 1937. Every other trip they made from the opening of Michigan stadium to the donning of the winged helmets was in late November.