Discover more from Football Archaeology
Today's Tidbit... James Gilbert's Evolution of College Football Fields
I typically fill the virtual pages of Football Archaeology with combinations of words I string together to explain some element of football's past. In honor of our national holiday, however, today's focus is on a labor of love prepared by James Gilbert. James and I co-authored a story in November 2021 about an early UNC football team and their journey north to play Lehigh in New York City. The trip made them the first Southern football team to play in the North.
You can click on that story if you want. Still, I recommend looking at James' Evolution of College Football Fields, the most complete source I've seen of the history of football field dimensions, markings, and related information.
James starts before football became a separate sport and documents each step in the field's progression, along with some rationale for the changes, knitting a thorough timeline of the field's progression. It's a fun read and an excellent reference for those using field configurations to date old photos.
James also publishes a series called Forgotten Fields. He uses newspaper archives, insurance maps, and other period sources to determine the exact locations where his alma mater, UNC, played its early games.
Many of those fields have disappeared. They've been torn down and built over, but he finds their ghost and superimposes an image of a football field atop whatever is in those locations today. It's a quirky, fun look at football history that even NC State fans can enjoy.
Football Archaeology will return to its regular content tomorrow, but I encourage everyone to check out James' article and his site in general.
Enjoy the rest of your Labor Day!
Subscribe for free and never miss a story. Support this site with a paid subscription, buy me a coffee (or two), or buy a book, blog-used or logoed item in the store.