Welcome to the MVictors Uniform Timeline where below you will find a descending timeline of changes to the Michigan football team uniforms over the years.
Note: For all uniform changes prior to 1970, the rules change a bit. If I have a compelling photo of an actual jersey (or portion of a jersey) over this period, I will include it in the timeline even if it didn’t mark a particular change in design or new feature:
October 1, 1938 | Ann Arbor, MI | vs. Michigan State
HELMET: Fritz Crisler takes over as head coach, introduces the “winged” helmet design. Here’s pistol back Paul Kromer (83) heading toward one of his 2 touchdowns that day in the fresh new headgear (via the 1939 Michiganensian):
1931 Season | Ann Arbor
JERSEY: Remarkably what is believed to be an actual 1931 jersey belonging to former player Norm Daniels showed up on eBay in 2008:
1930 Season | Ann Arbor
JERSEY: This is the first season jersey numbers appear on the front of Michigan uniforms, evidenced by the end-of-year team photos:
November 10, 1928 | Baltimore, MD (Baltimore Stadium) | vs. Navy
JERSEY: Navy insisted on wearing blue, so Michigan team wore “bright yellow jerseys with blue numbers. The team was said to look like canaries, and the uniforms were put away after the 6-6 tie.” (Source: Champions of the West)
1927 (End of Season) | Ann Arbor, MI
JERSEY: Following the 1927 season, Michigan retires the #47 jersey belonging to Bennie Oosterbaan.(In 2012 Oosterbaan and the #47 officially entered the Michigan Football Legends program and returned to the field.)
Below, a colorized version of Oosterbaan’s 1927 uniform (HT: MVictors reader Larry).
November 12, 1927 | Ann Arbor, MI | vs. Navy
HELMET: To create contrast with Navy’s uniform, Michigan paints its helmets “a bright maize color” for the game. Here’s a clip from the Michigan Daily prior to the game:
1915 Season | Ann Arbor, MI
JERSEY: According to U-M Bentley Historical Library, numbers appear on Michigan uniforms for the first time in 1915, appearing only on the back of the jersey.
1911 Seasons | Ann Arbor, MI
JERSEY/HELMET/SHOES: Put up for auction in 2010, what appears to be an authentic full uniform from the (approximately) 1911 Michigan football team:
1901 Season | All Games
An interesting find from author John Kryk at the U-M Bentley Historical Library – a colorized version of the 1901 team photo. (It’s unclear when this was done and whether the color tones are accurate, but worthy of posting here nonetheless).
JERSEY: From the team photo, its appears most of the the team donned dark sweaters with ‘U of M’ brushed or painted onto the front. Several of the players all wear a short beanie cap:
May 30, 1879 | Chicago, IL (White Stocking Park) | vs. Racine
JERSEY & SHOE/SOCKS: According to Champions of the West, the uniform’s for the first game in history consisted of “white, close-fitting canvas with blue stockings and a belt.” Based on the team photo available at the U-M Bentley Library, the team also donned nifty striped hats:
February 12, 1867 | Ann Arbor, MI
MISC: Michigan officially adopts maize and blue as its school colors (more here):
Our college colors were chosen at a meeting of the literary department held in the chapel on Saturday, February 12, 1867, when Milton Jackson, ’67, Albert H. Pattengill, ’68, and J. Eugene Jackson, ’69, the committee appointed for the purpose, reported a resolution in favor of “azure-blue and maize”, which was adopted. In about ten years the colors came to be styled, as they are now styled, yellow and blue. The original blue was neither light nor very dark, and the yellow was decidedly golden. Never has there been any warrant for the sickly yellow and the faded blue furnished by some of the tradesmen of Detroit and Ann Arbor.