Posts Tagged ‘University of Michigan’

Craighead Exhibit at Historical Society

August 15, 2014

Yesterday, Cumberland County Historical Society videotaped an interview of me for their oral history project and for the upcoming exhibit on the Craigheads. The video is to be in conjunction with the artifacts displayed in the two large cabinets in Todd Hall from September through January. I talked about a dozen different topics related to the Craigheads, beginning with their emigrating from Ulster to Boston in the American colonies in 1714 and settling in Cumberland County in the 1730s. The topics selected are related to the various portions of the exhibit visitors will see (if I can fit them all into the cabinets). Jean Craighead George’s writing desk, which Craighead House is loaning for the exhibit, will sit between the cabinets, helping with the space problem a bit.

The backpack Frank Craighead Jr. made for Johnston Coyle fits snugly but is an interesting artifact of which I first became aware when reading an article in a University of Michigan alumni magazine that included the photograph below. Following up on the article, I learned that Frank Jr. and John made a number of these backpacks for their families and friends. I also learned that the canvas portion was made by Maslands—the Craigheads are close friends with the Maslands. Dave Masland informed me that, during WWII when there was zero demand for automobile carpet, his father converted the plant to producing canvas duck and quickly became the country’s largest producer. This fabric was used in tents, jackets, and numerous other products.

We still need some artifacts for the exhibit: a falconer’s glove, an ex, and a ball of cord, all in used condition. If you can lend us any of these, please let me know.

Babies at Big House

Babies in The Big House



Time Out for Photos

August 8, 2012

Tex Noel just sent me a link to a Library of Congress website that contains digital images, some of which are of Indian football teams. The link he sent was

Tex suggested that I click on football, which I did. The problem is that I’m easily distracted. Before I could see anything related to Indian football teams, the term “Early films” jumped out at me. The first one, listed just below the sheet music for On Wisconsin!, is moving picture footage (silent of course) from the 1903 Chicago-Michigan game shot by the Edison studio. I doubt seriously if Thomas Edison himself was directly involved in making these films; employees of his probably shot them but were likely among the best in the industry, such as it was, at the time.

Four items down the list is footage of the 1903 Princeton-Yale game, also shot by Edison. A. C. Abadie is credited as being the cameraman. The footage of these old games featuring prominent teams gives one an idea what the state-of-the-art was in football uniforms and equipment at the time. The action is hard to make out at times but some things can be gleaned from replaying the clips.

Eventually, I looked at still photos. The first one I noticed, the one at the bottom of the page, is of an Alaskan Indian football team. It was also taken in 1903. Unfortunately, little in the way of detail is supplied. It would be interesting to know which team this is. Someone knowledgeable about reservations, agencies and schools around the turn of the last century might be able to shed a little light on this.

My person favorite, found on page 6 of the list, is of the 1903 University of Chicago-Haskell Institute game titled “players arguing.” From what I can tell, it looks like they’re doing a bit more than arguing. A higher resolution version might even reveal some players who later transferred to Carlisle.

Chicago & Haskell Players “arguing”

Was Washington Offered Rose Bowl First?

February 7, 2011

In a discussion on of his biography of “Gloomy” Gil Dobie, William L. Borland, states that the University of Washington was offered the opportunity to defend the honor of the West and turned it down prior to it being offered to Washington State. UW’s account differs with that told by WSC. When asked where he found the information to support the claim, Borland responded that he found it in Seattle newspapers of the day. I have seen letters on Tournament of Roses letterhead to Washington State and to Brown University confirming that they would be playing each other on January 1, 1916, but I haven’t seen anything from the Tournament to UW. Research in Tournament of Roses and UW archives will be necessary to determine the truth. However, not finding anything in either archive does not mean that documents never existed, just that the institutions didn’t save them or that someone stole them from the archives. The latter happens more often than we’d like to admit.

It will be some time before I have the opportunity to do research at either institution, so basic newspaper searches will have to do for now. I do recall that an early report out of Providence stated that Brown would be playing the University of Washington. Prior to this, I thought that a reporter was confused. A quick search of an on-line newspaper archive found a November 10, 1915 article in The Bakersfield Californian that included the following:

“The undefeated University of Washington football eleven probably will be seen in action at Pasadena New Year’s Day, according to plans learned in Los Angeles yesterday. The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce has invited Coach Gilmour Dobie’s aggregation to meet one of the strongest eastern varsities at Pasadena January 1, and Washington is expected to accept the offer….Faculty permission is all that is needed, according to [Graduate Manager Arthur] Younger….Pasadena may bring Michigan out for the contest with Washington. However, as Michigan has been losing steadily it is believed that another school will be selected.”

To be continued…

More on Espresso Book Machine

November 15, 2010

While theEspresso Book Machine (EBM) was printing the book, the representative said that they received six to ten orders per week. Some of these orders may be for a single copy of a book but others can be for tens of copies. It seems that the machine is greatly underutilized at this time because the equipment is capable of printing thousands of books per month. In fact, the minimum usage for ExpressNet, the software that connects the EBM to book print files from a variety of sources, is 5,000 copies a year. Download the files for fewer than 5,000 titles a year is viewed as underutilizing ExpressNet. If I understand correctly, locally created books need not be uploaded to ExpressNet to be printed on an EBM. Thus, an ExpressNet connection is not necessary but does limit the range of works available for printing on a particular EBM. One of the sources linked to by ExpressNet is Lightning Source (LSI). LSI is the digital print on demand arm of Ingram, the large book wholesaler. I am interested in this connection because the Pop Warner Single-Wing Trilogy is printed by LSI. Books printed by LSI are automatically available to almost all resellers of books both on and off-line. Now, I need to see how to make the Trilogy available to EBMs world-wide, not that many people outside the U.S. would be interested in it.

I assumed that UM professors who consider the textbooks in their heads to be better than those that are actually in print would see the opportunity to easily convert the books in their minds into physical form without having to convince a publisher to pay them to write the book. Professor-authors could then sell these books to captive buyers in the forms of their students. This hasn’t happened to any significant degree as yet, most likely because the idea hasn’t dawned on them yet apparently because most of them are unaware of the EBM’s existence and capabilities. When they do, grad students will be tasked with creating the PDFs to input to the machine. Whether professors will actually write the books or if that task will be delegated to grad students will vary on a case-by-case basis.

Espresso Book Machine Redux

November 11, 2010

A little over a year ago I attempted and failed to see an Espresso Book Machine actually create a book at the University of Michigan Undergraduate Library (see . Last Friday, I had the opportunity to try again. I feared the worst when, upon arriving at the library, it was under construction, probably for remodeling and/or expansion. After finding our way into the building (as a UM alum, my wife knows her way around the campus—at least the way it was when she was an undergrad), the machine wasn’t where it used to be because that area had been changed into something else. The person at the reference desk knew they had such a machine but didn’t know where it had been moved. Fortunately, the two students working at the reference desk across this very large room did know and pointed it out to us as being next to a glassed-in area in this same large room.

We timed our visit to the library to coincide with the machine’s operating hours (10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. weekdays). Two young women demonstrated the machine to us while printing a book that was part of an order of 60 or 80 copies of a single book from a campus organization. The printing of the bookblock took longer than usual because the regular printer is in the shop and a slower replacement was being used at the time. Watching the EBM assemble the book and trimming it to size was the most interesting part. The cover had a bulge on it along the top of the spine. The operator said that every so often the glue blobs up like that but that it isn’t a major problem.

Thousands, if not millions, of titles are available to be printed. They come from four major groups: 1) those made available by Lightning Source, Ingram’s print on demand arm, 2) books submitted electronically to it by local authors, 3) books that have been scanned by Google (Michigan’s entire collection was scanned), and 4) advance review copies for books to be published by the University of Michigan University Press. The woman went on to explain that they only printed out of copyright books or those for which permission had been granted.

More about the EBM next time.

RichRod Learns from Pop Warner

September 25, 2010

Watching Michigan playing Bowling Green today, I saw a formation that looked familiar. In that formation, Michigan’s backs were all in the backfield, arranged almost in a box. Any of the four backs could receive a direct snap from center, at least in theory. It wasn’t the only formation I saw RichRod use in the game and probably isn’t his primary formation. However, he did use it for multiple plays and for sizeable gains. After a few moments’ thought, I remembered where I had seen a similar formation before. I could be wrong about his formation due to not having a diagram of it, but it sure looked familiar on TV.

Page 113 of Pop Warner’s 1912 book, A Course in Football for Players and Coaches, begins a discussion of Warner’s Open Pass Direct Pass Formation (see bottom of this message). The diagram for this century-old offensive scheme is a bit different than the one RichRod uses but provides the foundation upon which his is based. Both offenses feature direct snaps to multiple backs as well as both pass and run plays from the same position in the formation.

A difference between the formations appears to be that Rodriguez moves backs 1 and 2 to behind the tackles where Warner had them behind the guards. One assumes that the wider position helps make backs 1 and 2 more effective blockers for off-tackle plays and end runs. They might even assist with protecting the passer. Warner included a note stating that experience showed that moving the ends closer to the tackles had proved more effective in blocking the defensive tackles than having them set wide as shown in his diagrams.

A difference between Warner’s plays and those used today is that today centers lob the ball back, generally to the quarterback, where Warner’s centers often led the back receiving the snap. Warner’s scheme requires highly skilled centers but gives the offense advantages over those in which the back receiving the center snap stands flatfooted waiting for the ball to arrive.

Espresso Book Machine Going to Waste

October 26, 2009

This past Friday, I was in Ann Arbor doing research for a future book. When we finished our work in the archives, my wife suggested that we check out the Espresso Book Machine (EBM) that was installed at the University of Michigan over a year ago. The young special collections librarian was familiar with the machine and told us exactly where it is located. She looked up its hours of operations on the school’s website and noticed that the machine was in operation from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. weekdays. Because that is only ten hours a week, we decided that the website was in error; the EBM must be in operation from 10:00 a.m. to midnight. The Shapiro Library, which is better known to Michigan alums as UGLI (for Undergraduate Library), is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily, so 10:00 a.m. to midnight makes sense for the EBM. However, the website is not wrong.

We arrived a little after 5:00 p.m. to find the Espresso machine just inside the front door as advertised, sitting idle, also as advertised. An employee of the library explained to us that only two people were trained to use the machine and they only operated it two hours a day, weekdays. On the counter was a folder with a few pages of lists of books available to be printed. None of them interested me. I had expected to find a computer catalogue of thousands of pre-1923 books available to be printed. After all, Google famously scanned Michigan’s entire collection. There had to be numerous books in it that are in the public domain.

The gentleman handed us a stack of pre-printed books that could be purchased, but none of them interested us. The quality of the books looks to the naked eye to be about the same as that of print-on-demand books.

Some months ago, Jeff Wood, the proprietor of Whistlestop Bookshop in Carlisle, PA, and I discussed the possibilities of the Espresso machine, particularly in a college town. One opportunity we envisioned was professors, unshackled from the need to find a publisher willing to invest in their books, writing their own texts for the courses they teach. The college bookstore wouldn’t have to inventory the books, other than a few copies to keep lines down at the beginning of the term. Researchers wishing to read dissertations wouldn’t have to strain their eyes and wrenching their bodies over microfilm machines.

But that is not to be at the University of Michigan. One hopes that other installations more fully utilize their EBMs. More on the machine, including a video of it in operation, can be found at

Fielding Yost Offered Carlisle Job

September 8, 2009

As always, when I search for information on one topic, I find unrelated, but interesting information on something else. This time I came across an article in the January 14, 1907 edition of The Lake County Times about the state of Michigan athletics—the University of Michigan, that is. The article, dateline Ann Arbor, Mich., Jan. 13, discussed the University’s dissatisfaction with conference rule changes. The changes apparently dealt with eligibility and would hurt its track team. “Michigan appears to be hit the hardest by this rule for she will lose five of last year’s conference point winners. These five men took no less than forty-two points In the last meet, and now that they are out It looks as though Michigan will not shine very brightly in the conference this spring”

 “The blow has been dealt and if Michigan remains in the conference to be dictated to by such colleges as Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota and Indiana, with whom she has, absolutely no athletic relations except during the one-day general conference track meet, there will be the sorest bunch of collegians in Ann Arbor that ever was collected together.” As the reporter expected, Michigan dropped out of the conference and stayed out for about a decade. However, the article included a tidbit of more interest to me.

“Yost, Fitzpatrick and Baird have ambitions. Fielding Yost draws $3,500. He had an offer of $5,000 to go as coach for the Carlisle Indian School and turned it down because things were agreeable here.” The last statement may or may not have been true. Had Carlisle offered Yost the job, the offer had to have been tendered much earlier. Articles were printed in late December, 1906 announcing that Warner was leaving Cornell and returning to Carlisle. Also, Albert Exendine wrote that he had been informed late in the 1906 season that Warner would be returning. This was before Fielding Yost officiated the Carlisle-Vanderbilt game. I wouldn’t say that Yost and Warner feuded but it is clear that Yost did not like Warner. Whether this incident factored into that any way is not known.