With their stylish caps, this looks like a photo of a 19th century baseball team. But look more closely at the oblong object the man in the front row is holding. That’s a football, and this is a picture of the 11-man squad from Trinity College taken in 1889.
The game of football was born in the 1870s on the campus of northeastern colleges. By the late 1880s it was spreading like wildfire, and the boys from Trinity formed a league with other North Carolina schools like Duke, Wake Forest, and UNC.
The folks at Duke University have been sharing their archives online, with a massive collection of photographs that span the institution’s history. There are photos showing campus scenes, student life, early postcards… even a 70 picture set that covers campus dining halls. But my favorite is the collection of Duke football pictures. I’m particularly fond af the artwork on the football programs, like this one from 1937.