You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:32 p.m.

Rare home video shows footage of Michigan football game from 1930s

By Nathan Bomey


This screen capture shows footage of a Michigan football game at Michigan Stadium from a home video restored by Priceless Photo Preservation. This shot, visible at the 0:33 mark, displays a punt.

Photo courtesy of Priceless Photo Preservation

(See related story: New Ann Arbor business launches preservation service for photos, home videos)

A new Ann Arbor business has restored a 16-millimeter home video showing 78 seconds of footage of the Michigan football team and marching band at Michigan Stadium — a film that is believed to have been shot in the 1930s.

The startup, Priceless Photo Preservation, restored a home movie featuring "field-level footage of a Michigan football game inside the newly built (and nearly empty) Michigan Stadium," co-founder Rob Hoffman said in an email.

The video owner, Ann Arbor native Susan Pearlman, said her grandfather, Ovid Weldon, shot the film, which shows extensive action featuring the Michigan football team, marching band and several views of the crowd. Two punts are clearly visible. (Scroll down to watch the video.)

Pearlman believes that her grandfather, who earned a degree in landscape architecture from U-M in the late 1920s, shot the film sometime between 1931 and 1935 because other footage on the reel shows her father or uncle as a toddler. Her uncle was born in 1928, and her father was born in 1932. She said no one had seen the video since at least 1960, when her grandfather died.

The owner and preservation company are asking the public to help determine exactly when the footage was shot. Can you help? Post a comment below.

"To see a Michigan football game from way back when is pretty amazing," said Pearlman, who is restoring old videos as holiday gifts. "

Michigan Stadium opened on Oct. 1, 1927 with a capacity of about 84,000. After a minor expansion in 1928, the stadium wasn't expanded again until the late 1940s.

In 1930, the university "installed electronic scoreboards at both ends of the stadium, becoming the first stadium to use electronic scoreboards for official game time," according to the University of Michigan athletics department.

At the 0:13 mark in the video, the bottom of what appears to be a scoreboard is visible on one side of the stadium, but it's not clear whether it's electronic.

It's also clear that the stadium is far from full.

"Of course those were the days when it looked like you actually could get a seat in the stadium," Pearlman said with a laugh.

Pearlman said she briefly considered trying to find a 16-millimeter film projector before deciding to have it restored by Priceless Photo Preservation.

"It's great to have somebody working with basically treasured family memories. These guys are all archivists and they will take care of the film and make sure it's all done properly," she said.

The video ranks among the oldest publicly known amateur footage of Michigan Stadium and the Michigan football team.

But it's brand new compared to footage of the Michigan football team's 22-12 victory over the University of Chicago at Ferry Field in 1904. The footage, shot by Thomas Edison's American Kinetograph Co., is believed to be one of the earliest videos of any football game, according to U-M's Bentley Historical Library.

The library also owns a 1926 video showing Fielding Yost and several players practicing, including Bennie Oosterbaan and Benny Friedman. It shows only a few seconds of game footage, including a clip of the 1926 game with Ohio State.

A 1927 video owned by the library shows extensive footage of the Michigan Stadium dedication and the Wolverines' 21-0 victory over Ohio State, featuring three touchdowns by Louis Gilbert.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.


Richard Alder

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

There are actually two bands in this video. The first one marching downfield is the MMB. Stopping the clip at about the 3 second point does give a good shot of the drum major in the uniform used through the 1938 season, but it could go back to the earlier 30's. There is a bit of footage of a band doing a routine on the field in white pants - that is not the M band (drum major is in all white). Someone made a comment about Revelli - he did arrive in 1935, but the high step style was not instituted until the 1948 Rose Bowl game.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

I wish it was more clear; my grandfather played from 1933-1935, and it would have been nice to see the numbers on the shirts. I may have been able to help narrow down the year - as well as see him play!

Mark Clague

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 7:07 a.m.

A historian of the marching band might offer some help with the date. The style is very different than the high stepping of today, but I don't know when that started. William Revelli came to UM in 1935 and if the current style began then, you'd know this was earlier. I assume the "ghosts" are the referees? Thanks for posting.

Terry Star21

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:30 a.m.

This is great, I really enjoyed seeing the band and the team. Looked like three yards and a cloud of dust. On a related note, our old coach said he also could have coached that team to a 10-2 record.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

Comical isn't it!

Kai Petainen

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

that's really neat. awesome stuff.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:51 p.m.

Ah, the good old days when you could bring a movie camera in the stadium and shoot whatever you wanted without the security people coming down and confiscating it!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:20 a.m.

I'll bet quite a few fans take video with their cellphones.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

This is quite fantastic, but I feel the need to echo a previous commenter that 16mm is a film format, not a video format. You could call it a home movie, but it's definitely not video - and the holdings of the library might be on video, but certainly in 1926-7, video didn't exist. Just one of those things that ruffles the feathers of those working in film/video. :)


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

I'm tired of all these kids today saying that today's players are way better than the players of yesteryear. Take a look at this film! The players moved so fast that they had to show it in SLOW MOTION!! Denard would have been just another guy out there with these speed demons. I can only guess most players are so slow nowadays because American kids are so hefty and spend most of their time online.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

With all those ghosts running around the field, I'm pretty sure this was the 1931 game against the Savannah College Of Paranormal Energy (SCOPE). SCOPE was considered a major contender for the national championship until the NCAA forbid the levitation of the football more than five yards past the line of scrimmage.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

With all the empty seats, I'm pretty sure it's before Dave Brandon got here...


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 9:36 p.m.

It was during the Depression and the 99% couldn't afford the seat license fee I guess.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

Good Ol' Sparty trolls....SMH

Some Guy in 734

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

(Pssst... 16mm is not a "video" format.)


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

Oh yeah, the leather helmet era. The highlight of UM football.

Jonny Spirit

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

Is this when Michigan played the Nursing School, and the other top 25 schools in the nation. Oh, this is why Michigan has all those wins because they played these great no named colleges. Great footage.

Terry Star21

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 2:27 a.m.

That is funny Jonny !

Matt Patercsak

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:19 p.m.



Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

Look at how many empty seats.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

I think we're looking at the ghost of Fielding H. Yost in those clips and other white spooky beings.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

Maybe those were the predecessors of the fine BIg Ten officials of today. :-)


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

amazing - this beats the coverage Fox Sports has in 2011


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

Was that a read-option spread formation? :-)