Found – The Ann Arbor News Photo Archive of Michigan Athletics

The Michigan History Project is pleased to present the Michigan Sports Media Collection, a forgotten treasure trove of University of Michigan athletic photographs formerly in the archives of the Ann Arbor News.

The collection consists almost entirely of original camera negatives, dating from 1935 all the way up to the 21st century. That's over 70 years of stellar first-generation images from one of the country's most celebrated collegiate sports programs.

Jim Abbott on the mound against Wisconsin, 1988.
It's all here. The players, the coaches, the games, the fans, and the indefatigable marching band. The greatest moments in Wolverine athletics, frozen in time on strips of celluloid film.

From out of the past come the heroes and the legends. Fielding Yost. Bo Schembechler. Tom Harmon. Cazzie Russell. Glen Rice. Fritz Crisler. The Mad Magicians. Desmond Howard. Anthony Carter. Diane Dietz. Alicia Seegert. Jim Abbott. Barry Larkin. Red Berenson. Carol Hutchins. Rudy T. Bob Ufer. Charles Woodson. The Wisterts. Ali Haji-Sheikh. Doc Losh.

Seventy-plus years of the leaders and the best.

A Treasure Chest of Incredible Memories

Discovering the archive for the first time is like opening a treasure chest of incredible memories. Tucked away in envelopes and sleeves are thousands of spectacular images, in stark black-and-white and full living color, covering the entire wide spectrum of Michigan sports. Football, basketball, baseball, softball, ice hockey, field hockey, track and field, swimming, wrestling, gymnastics, volleyball, tennis, golf, rugby, soccer. Both men's and women's teams are well-represented.

At this point we don't yet know exactly how many pictures are in the collection. But we've estimated that it contains as many as 60,000 images, most of which have never before been published.

The negatives come in three sizes: standard 35mm, medium-format 60mm, and the incredibly huge 4x5. Who knew there were negatives that large! The 4x5 negatives are the oldest ones, dating mainly from the 1950s and before.

How It Happened

A large 4x5 negative from the Michigan Sports Media Collection.
How did this amazing collection come to be? In 2009 the Ann Arbor News discontinued print publication due to financial pressures. The company became annarbor.com and moved to new offices and no longer had space for its photo archive. Many of the pictures were transferred to the Ann Arbor District Library, but before that happened all the University of Michigan sports photos were removed for possible future use.

However, in the confusion of moving offices and launching a new Web site, the sports photos passed out of mind and remained untouched for five years. When the Michigan History Project learned of the existence of this trove of neglected wonders, we stepped in and offered our equipment and resources to help organize and digitize the photographs.

We estimate that it will take at least 18 months to scan the entire collection.

As part of our mission to bring archives alive, the Michigan History Project plans to use the scanned images in several deluxe illustrated books about Wolverine sports, with the first book being about football and subsequent volumes focusing on other sports, including basketball, hockey, and more.

Wait, There's More

As many photographs as are in this collection, we're always looking for more! If you have photos of University of Michigan athletics, and would like to submit them for possible publication by the Michigan History Project, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

The Michigan Sports Media Collection

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The Michigan History Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to bringing archives alive and making them available to the widest possible audience through compelling and relevant media.

If you are interested in contributing to our efforts or discussing the Michigan History Project's aims and objectives, please visit the contact page.

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