Posts Tagged ‘Alison Danzig’

Pop Warner letter for sale

May 9, 2008

I have become aware that a historically significant letter written by Pop Warner is up for sale on an Internet site: http://www.historyforsale.com/html/prodetails.asp?documentid=227287&start=2&page=48

The letter was written on October 8, 1951 on Warner’s personal stationery as he was retired by that time and living in Palo Alto, California, where he had earlier coached Stanford University. The letter to Col. Alexander M. “Babe” Weyand contains Warner’s recollections as to when he invented various things and his opinions as to which Carlisle victories were the most significant.

This letter is important because it helps clarify issues currently being debated, some of which I am to blame for raising the issue. Due to Alison Danzig’s writing it had long been thought that Warner had developed the single- and double-wing formations later than Warner states in this letter. I based my 2006 documentary celebrating the centennial of the birth of modern football on statements Warner made in his landmark 1927 book on football and some other sources. This letter supports my position. In their recent books on Jim Thorpe, Sally Jenkins and Lars Anderson generally support the position that Carlisle pioneered modern football when the rules changed drastically in 1906. But Warner’s letter partially debunks their positions that the double-wingback was first unleashed against Army in 1912. He also lists what he considered Carlisle’s most important victories. The 1912 Army game was not among them. More on that in a future post.

The question I have is: why is this important letter up for sale and not in an archive? Two repositories come quickly to mind; Cumberland County Historical Society (CCHS) or West Point – CCHS because it holds numerous records and artifacts from the Carlisle Indian School and West Point because it holds Weyand’s papers. I don’t know if West Point buys papers for its collection but CCHS certainly does. It recently purchased 28 letters written by Jim Thorpe in the 1920s that had nothing to do with Carlisle. The asking price for the Warner letter is about twice what CCHS paid for each of the Thorpe letters. One of the reasons historical documents are so expensive is that there are autograph collectors who are willing to pay large sums just for signatures of famous people. But Warner’s letter to Weyand is valuable for the information it contains.

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