As an associate archivist at the Bentley Historical Library, Gregory Kinney spends a lot of his time sifting through old documents from the Athletic Department. Originally a history major, Kinney studied library sciences at the University and eventually fell into his current field of study – a position he says is unique to the University, an athletic historian. Here, Kinney talks about the challenge of ever changing technology, the most requested documents and how history will treat Lloyd Carr.
– The most requested photos over the past few years have been of Bo. There are two documents that are very popular. One is a letter Gerald Ford wrote to Coach Kipke in 1931 thanking Kipke for his hospitality after Ford visited him in Ann Arbor. The second is a letter Coach Crisler wrote to his 1947 football team, who went on the win a Rose Bowl that season, when he was near death. It’s a very touching note.
– I think people will remember what a great guy Lloyd was, the devotion his team seems to have to him, the national championship. But most of all, he carried on the Michigan tradition.
– I do a variety of work on any given day. Most of the time I’m involved in reference work for the Athletic Department’s media relations. They usually have a specific question they need answered or a photo request. And then I get a lot of e-mails from the general public. For example, someone’s grandfather may have played on the football team in 1931 and they want to know more about him.
– I started working as an archivist for the Athletic Department in 1992 when Schembechler Hall was being built because there was a museum attached to the hall. It was only supposed to be a short-term project, but I stayed on.
– I think the University has a responsibility to document its activities. Media relations require a lot of old material. A lot of alums have fond memories of Michigan athletics and this material allows the University to keep in touch with a broader audience.
– I love the physicality of handling photos from the 1880s. I was a history major so I really like understanding what people were feeling and what campus life was like in the past.
– Our paper materials date back to the 1860s. Then we also have photos and videotapes. Now we have a lot more digital files. There is something nice about having the physical object, but it’s also nice to have the digital option.
– The videos from Bo and Lloyd’s eras are going to be very different. The videos from Bo’s time are single shots from the press box. But now the games are shot from so many different angles. It’s really wonderful.
– As told to Emily Angell