Where did I find all of the information for this book?
The information in this book has been gleaned from approximately 2,300 individual sources, mostly articles from daily newspapers and student newspapers, but also from many other sources. I owe a great debt to sportswriters in Fargo, North Dakota, Moorhead, Minnesota, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, as well as sportswriters throughout the United States and Canada for their devotion to sharing more than just the results of football games. In particular, the work of Dick Hackenberg in the Moorhead Daily News, Ralph Allen in the Winnipeg Tribune, Edward A. Armstrong in the Winnipeg Free Press, and Eugene Fitzgerald in the Fargo Forum stand above the rest as valuable sources of information. Other major sources of information include sportswriters Johnny Buss and Paul E. Warburg in the Winnipeg Tribune, W.G. Allen, Campbell McKenzie, and Maurice Smith in the Winnipeg Free Press, and Hank Hurley and Marvin Quinn in the Fargo Forum. Other sportswriters worth mentioning include Everett Wallum and Walt McGrath in the Spectrum, Vern DeGeer in the Windsor Star, Dave Dryburgh in the Leader-Post, Bob Elson in the Province, C.D. Locklin in the Grand Forks Herald, Elmer Dulmage in the Lethbridge Herald, Ralph Wilson in the Calgary Herald, Bernard Swanson in the Minneapolis Star, George A. Barton in the Minneapolis Tribune, and Ed Steinbrenner in the Sioux City Journal.
Newspapers did not include a byline with every article and so it’s worth noting that I gleaned most of the information for this book from the Fargo Forum, Moorhead Daily News, Winnipeg Free Press, and Winnipeg Tribune daily newspapers and also the Concordian, Spectrum, Western MiSTiC, and Winnipeg Manitoban student newspapers.
I viewed the majority of newspaper articles for this book using the services NewspaperArchive.com and Newspapers.com. I gleaned information from the Toronto Daily Star through the Toronto public library’s digital archive, from the Concordian through the digital resources provided by the Concordia College Archives, and from the Western MiSTiC through the digital resources provided by the Minnesota State University Moorhead Archives.
Because the Fargo Forum is not available in a digital format, I accessed articles from that newspaper by viewing microfilm. The North Dakota State University Archives provided the space and equipment for me to view microfilm, where I also viewed microfilm obtained from the State Historical Society of North Dakota, especially for articles from the Dakota Student, Grand Forks Herald, and Minot Daily News. I visited the Minnesota Historical Society to view microfilm for Minnesota newspapers that have not yet been made available in a digital format.
Most colleges and universities now provide access to digital archives, which oftentimes include scanned images of student newspapers and college yearbooks. I gained access to some college yearbooks through Ancestry.com where I also viewed other historical records, including census records, international border crossing records, birth and death records, obituaries, and more.
Both the NDSU and Concordia archives provided access to physical media, especially college yearbooks but other materials, as well. When I could not access physical media at some colleges and universities, librarians at those institutions found and scanned information for me from student newspapers and college yearbooks. The Bronko Nagurski Museum in International Falls found and provided some information for this book.
Sports information departments at various colleges and universities routinely publish media guides, which have been a great resource, and the North Dakota State Athletics Department, especially, helped me to clear up a key mystery for this book. I also gleaned information from Sports Reference LLC and their Pro Football Reference web site. Frank Cosentino's book Canadian Football: The Grey Cup Years provided valuable information about Canadian football’s past, which pointed me in the right direction for further research.
I leveraged many other resources, including some books and many credible web sites, too numerous to mention individually.
It’s worth noting that sports-writing before and during the early 1930s provided different, less exact information than it does today, especially in terms of statistics. Sportswriters and team statisticians had no film to watch later to double-check observed yardage gained, and while one source might give a runner 2 yards on a play, another source might give 3 yards. Observers typically rounded up for their own players and rounded down for opposing players. Depending on weather and field conditions, the disparity between observed yardages might be wider. Whenever possible, I deferred to using information from sources local to the home team.
Also, because the forward pass was relatively new in importance, some observers awarded the entire distance of a pass from where the passer stood behind the line of scrimmage to where the receiver caught the ball, while others awarded the distance of the pass from the line of scrimmage to the receiver. Some tacked on the receiver’s yards gained after the catch, but not all observers awarded that yardage. Some broke down a pass into pass yardage and run yardage. Modern practice awards the distance of the pass from the line of scrimmage and includes the yards gained after the catch. Whenever possible, I share passing yardage gained using the modern practice.
Sometimes, accounts of the same game in different newspapers awarded touchdowns and other scores to different players. Accuracy depended on knowing who was whom and being able to read numbers on jerseys, if they had them at all and if they were clean, and if the players wore their correct numbers. In these situations, I deferred to using information from sources local to the home team.
In rare instances, newspapers shared the events of a game that were recorded second-hand from firsthand observers who relied on memory, which is very fragile.
A key observation I can share about newspapers and statistics is that early on when football was primarily a running game, most articles only mentioned the final score, starting lineups with last names, and how many first downs each team gained. As football progressed to include more of the passing game, fans grew more interested in the game, and newspaper articles began to share more statistics.
In Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Rugby Club played several half-and-half games using American intercollegiate rules in the first half of a game and Canadian rules in the second half of a game, or vice-versa. Sometimes, but not always, the scorekeepers awarded teams more points than they had earned while playing under Canadian rules in those games.
Most early newspaper accounts only mentioned the most significant plays from a game, but some newspapers published play-by-play accounts.