Bentley Library | MGOBLUE | UM Football History | Uniforms, 1879-1899 | Uniforms 1900-1949 | Uniforms 190-1979

Michigan Football Uniforms, 1879-1899

1879 uniform
1879, Charlie Campbell
1879 Team Photo
1880 uniform
1880, Randolph Brown
1880 Team Photo
1883 unniform
1883, William Olcott
1883 Team Photo

The Michigan Chronicle of May 31, 1879 reported that "On Wednesday evening the eleven appeared on campus for the first time in their new suits. They presented quite a neat appearance. The uniform is of white canvas, close fitting, with blue stockings and belt."

The team's uniform's remained essentially the same for the next several years, though there were some differences in the way the shirt laced up or buttoned and in the type of collar. Each team did have different style of hat.

1884 uniform
1884, George Schemm
1884 Team Photo
1887 uniform
1887, Edgar McPherran
1887 Team Photo

The 188 team was the first to pose in a "letter sweater" with a M monogram. One of the players is wearing a jersey with the monogram drawn on it, while one of the sweaters has a mystery logo (or could it be a sweater turned inside out to hide a different monogram.) There is no known 1886 team photo, but the 1887 photo shows stitched on ' U of M" lettering on the canvas shirt, except for the two with the hand drawn "U of M"

1888 uniform
1888, William Malley
1888 Team Photo
1889 uniform
1889, Ben Boutwell
1889 Team Photo
1880 uniform pants
1889, Steve Gliden
1889 Team Photo

The 1888 uniform included a simple "M" monogram that would be used for several years and for the first time several players posed in striped sweaters. In later years some players would wear these sweaters under a sleeveless canvass vest.

it might be stretch to say the 1889 team had "uniform", since four distinct variations appear in the team photo. The quilted, padded pants made their first appearance in the 1889 photo.

1890 uniform
1890, William Malley
1890 Team Photo
1890 uniform
1890, James E. Duffy
1890 Team Photo
1891 uniform
1891, Ralph Hayes
1891 Team Photo

1890 captain William Malley wore one of the sleeveless vests that would be a standard part of uniforms for the next 20 years. Others wore a mix of uniform styles, some dating back several years, with at least four different versions of the "M".

In the 1891 team photo the varsity letter winners wore a white sweater bearing an early version of a Block M.

1892 uniform
1892, Ralph Hayes / Frank Ecke
19982 Team Photo
1892 uniform
1892, Willard Griffin
1892 Team Photo
1984, Bert Carr
1894 uniform Bert Carr uniform
Bert Carr
1894 Team Photo

By 1892, the sleeveless vest over a dark jersey (blue?) was the most common uniform, though there is some variety within that style. Striped socks were an innovation in1892, along with a dark letter sweater with a maize (or white?) M and collar and cuffs. .
The 1894 team's letter sweater sported an oversize version of a Block M.

1895 uniform, James Harper
James Hooper, 1895
1895 uniform, Jesse Yount
Jesse Grant Yount, 1895
1895 uniform, Giovanni Villa
Giovanni Villa,1895

.Three variants of uniforms from 1895. The quilted pants and sleeveless vest were now standard. It is not clear if the monogrammed jersey was typically worn under the vest. The vest itself usually did not contain any type of monogram or marking.

1895 uniform, Henry Senter
1895 Henry Senter
1896 uniform, Giovanni Villa
1896, Giovanni Villa
1898 uniform, William Cunningham
1898, William Cunningham

The 1895 letter sweater had a block M that was beginning to look like the modern "M", but variants were still in use, as Villa, Cunningham, Michigan's first All-American, and the 1897 team photo the attest.

1896 uniform, Fred HenninEger
1896, Fred "Pa" Henninger
1896 Team Photo
1896 uniform, shoulder pads1896, Early shoulder pads
1896 Team Photo
1898 uniform, Richard Fraunce
1898, Richard France
1898 Squad photo

Fred "Pa" Henninger, captain of the 1896 team, modeled the classic end-of- the-century uniform in an 1896 team photo, complete with cap with stylized UM logo. Two early examples of shoulder pads from 1896 and 1898 team photos foreshadow changes that were to come in the new century.

1898 helmet

1898 helmet
1890s style head gear worn by members
of the 1899 Alumni team
1899 Alumni Team Photo
1879 football shoes

1887 football shoes
Football Shoes, 1879, 1887
[crops from team photos]
1891 football shoes

1894 football shoes/
Football Shoes, 1881, 1894

By the late 1890s a variety of primitive head gear had begun to be used. The 1898 Alumni Team photo includes several examples. The football helmet is said to have been invented by George Barclay of Lafayette College in 1896, Similar in design to the helmets pictured above, it made its debut in Lafayette's game against Penn on October 28, 1896.

The 1879 team sported a rather stylish shoe, but the next year the more familiar black high-top appeared. It would be the basic model for years, but there were some variations and a few players wore footwear that was more boot-like. Judging from team photos, most shoes remained smooth-soled into the early 1890s, although a few players wore shoes with exaggerated tread or a sort of proto-cleat.

Another piece of optional protective gear appeared in the late 1890s--the rubber nose guard.. Patented in 1891 by the Morrill company, it was touted in the 1902 Spalding catalog as being "made of the finest rubber" and providing "absolute protection for the nose and teeth" The guard was never widely adopted by Michigan players. The bottom image is a player from the famous Carlisle Indian School team that played the Wolverines in Detroit in 1901. [Good game action photos of payers wearing the nose guard are hard to come by. The linked picture, with the 1901 Carlisle Indians on offense, shows at least two Wolverine defenders wearing a guard.]