The Story of a Sweater: 1930-1953

As fall fast approaches and the nights are cooler, all Michiganders are pulling out their jackets and sweaters. Cranbrook School for Boys (as it was once known) had, over the years a variety of sweaters made for the boys to wear, particularly if they were involved in athletics. Although Cranbrook Archives primary collects manuscript collections and institutional records, sometimes we are lucky enough to acquire objects that relate to our past, particularly that of the schools. The Cranbrook Sweater is one such object.

First featured in a team photo for the 1930-31 basketball team, it was a signature uniform for the basketball team photo for the next 22 years. Throughout Cranbrook School’s sports history, athletes on the basketball team, golf team, wrestling team, hockey team, football team, and baseball team all wore the sweater.  Beginning in the 1934-35 season, members of the golf team wore the sweater.

As time passed, the sweater gained increasing momentum in its popularity and peaked among the athletes in the 1940s. However, aside from the basketball team and golf team photos (where the sweater was worn by the entire team), most of the other team photos show only one or two members wearing the sweater for the team photo.  This could be due to the fact that the sweater is made of 100% wool!

Gradually, the sweater lost popularity and by the end of the 1953 school year, it faded out altogether. We are lucky to be caretakers of such a great piece of history, and the type of object that current school students love to see on their visits to the Archives.

Donald Leighton (far left in the photo below) is shown wearing the sweater in our collection.

Golf team 1935-36.

Golf team 1935-36.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

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