Today’s post is by John LeGloahec, Archivist in the Electronic Records Division at the National Archives in College Park, MD.
Super Bowl LVI will be played this weekend (Go Team!). The month of February is traditionally when the National Football League (NFL) Championship is played, along with the Pro Bowl, which marks the end of the NFL season. There are a number of football-related records in the Program Records of the National Register of Historic Places, including the home of Jim Thorpe (NAID 86511886), who was described by “King Gustav of Sweden as the world’s greatest athlete – this at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm after the Sac and Fox Indian had become the first competitor ever to win both the pentathlon and the decathlon.”
From the program record:
“The Jim Thorpe house, on the east side of Yale is a one-story, clapboarded affair painted gray. Not unlike countless other frame bungalows across the country, it is strongly representative of the modest middle-class society that produced it. Built in the winter of 1916-1917, it is small-town, mid-America . . . Jim Thorpe and his wife bought it in September 1917 from the new owner for $2,800. In 1924 the property was put in the name of the Thorpe’s three small children, subject to supervision of the Secretary of the Interior and the Shawnee Indian Agent. It was the only house the famed Indian athlete ever owned in Oklahoma.”
It was at Pennsylvania’s small Carlisle Institute that Thorpe first achieved fame as a super-athlete. With Glenn S. (“Pop”) Warner as coach, he and his teammates regularly whipped teams of many of the big colleges and universities around the country. As a halfback, Thorpe won All-American honors in 1911 and 1912. Against a powerful Harvard team in 1911, he scored all of Carlisle’s points – with a touchdown and four field goals – in his team’s 18-15 victory. Olympic honors and world-wide recognition followed in 1912.”
Also on the National Register is the McClinton Market (NAID 123863177) in Wichita, Kansas, which is a “one-story, frame, false-front commercial building with a gable-front roof . . . The building is located in the McAdams neighborhood, a historic African American neighborhood northeast of Wichita’s downtown commercial center.” The market was owned by Curtis McClinton, Sr, whose son, Curtis McClinton Jr., worked in the store alongside his family. “In 1956, McClinton Jr. and a friend tried to order ice cream at Randall’s Drug Store after their graduation from Wichita’s North High School. When they were refused service, the young men then refused to leave. The manager eventually turned out the lights and told the youth to wait outside for the police, who never came. McClinton went on to the University of Kansas on a football scholarship. He led the team in rushing in 1956, and in spite of being drafted by the National Football League after his junior year, returned to KU and helped his team win the Bluebonnet Bowl. For his success at KU, McClinton Jr. was selected to KU’s All-Time Team in football in 1969, and in 2001, he was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame . . . He graduated from KU in 1962, and played first for the Dallas Texans, and then with their successors, the Kansas City Chiefs where he is the sixth-leading rusher in franchise history. McClinton was named American Football League Rookie of the Year in 1962, and was the first AFL Player to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl. He is a member of the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. (Kansas City Chiefs).”
This year’s Super Bowl will be played in Inglewood, California – not far from the Los Angeles Coliseum, which was the location of the first Super Bowl and the site of the 1984 Summer Olympics. “The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, situated in Exposition Park, is a reinforced concrete, cast-in-place structure in the form of a giant elliptical bowl . . . The main exterior feature of the Coliseum, which interrupts an otherwise continuous and rhythmic flow of pierced panels and pilasters with an earth berm base, is the Peristyle, on the east end. The original elevation, which remains, is composed of a heroic propylaeum (triumphal arch) flanked by 14 smaller arches (7 to each side) and a central “torch.” The latter was added for the Xth Olympiad. The torch (107 feet above street level) was designed to fit in with the general architecture of the stadium. It was kept Illuminated throughout the Games. It was constructed of concrete, although the fixture atop it is of bronze.”
Above you can see the former California Governor (and actor), President Ronald Reagan tossing a ball around the Oval Office. Presidents have a long standing association with football, most notably the 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford. Before being elected to Congress, Ford played football for the University of Michigan. You can tour the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor. “The University of Michigan Central Campus Historic District [NAID 25340637] contains some thirty key buildings, including fifteen pivotal structures of particular historic and architectural significance.”
While the Cleveland Browns will not be playing in this year’s Super Bowl, there is the opportunity to visit Cleveland Municipal Stadium (National Archives Identifier 71987620). The stadium, “since its construction the largest stadium in use in major league baseball, was designed by a progressive city administration as a multipurpose structure to accommodate the great surge in attendance at baseball and football games and other public spectacles that occurred with the rise of the automobile. Its great size was a measure of the confidence that city leaders, such as City Manager William Hopkins and George Bender, chairman of the stadium commission, had in the city’s future.”
The now Las Vegas Raiders (formerly from Oakland) are also not a contender for this year’s Super Bowl. The 2022 Pro Bowl will be played in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. In 2006, the Pro Bowl was played in Hawaii, and the Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle oversaw the coin toss at the beginning of the game.
While he prefers basketball over football, even former President Obama has been seen throwing a football around the White House. So get yourself some snacks, settle into your favorite chair, and enjoy the big game!
This post is part of an ongoing series featuring records from the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 – 2017 (National Archives ID 20812721), a series within Record Group 79: Records of the National Park Service.