Historic Athletic Team Names – Cyclones definitely included!

As I listened to the news stories this past weekend leading up to the Super Bowl game of the Packers versus the Steelers, I realized that our own Cyclones and other collections we have here in the Special Collections Department had a few things in common with the history of this year’s Super Bowl team names.

The history of how the Packers and Steelers received their names has been recounted in numerous articles.  The Packers got theirs from a Wisconsin meat packing company which helped supply their uniforms, and the Steelers from the steel industry around the Pittsburgh area.  Both names are rooted in history and place, just as the Cyclones’ name.

How did our Cyclones get their name? Iowa State’s athletic teams have been known as the Cyclones since 1895.  On September 28 of that year the Iowa State football team surprised Northwestern University’s team, and themselves, by scoring an amazing 36 points.  Northwestern scored 0 points.  The Chicago Tribune described the game the next day:

“Struck by a Cyclone…Northwestern might as well have tried to play football with an Iowa cyclone as with the Iowa team it met yesterday.  At the end of fifty minute’s play the big husky farmers from Iowa’s Agricultural College had rolled up 36 points, while 15 yard line was the nearest Northwestern got to Iowa’s goal.”

Although tornadoes are not necessarily a money making industry here in Iowa, Iowa is nevertheless well known for producing these often terrifying weather phenomena.

More on the history of the naming of the Cyclones can be found here on our online exhibit about the history of Cy.  News clippings about that game with Northwestern, along with many others on the Cyclone football teams through the years, can be found in our football news clippings file (RS 24/6/0/0).  The University Archives also holds other materials documenting ISU’s football history, including game programs and media guides.  If you would like to read a little more about the history of football here at Iowa State, please read a previous post on an exhibit here in Special Collections on Iowa State’s football history (if you would still like to view this exhibit you need to hurry – a new one will soon be taking its place!).

The original Cyclone football team from 1895.

So you would like to do some research related to the names of the Packers and Steelers?  Although we obviously do not collect records related to these teams, we do have Iowa papers and records of people and companies related to the industries these teams were named after.  In addition to the papers of an Iowa State football player who played for one season with the Green Bay Packers (William Reichardt Papers, MS-8however – his papers do not contain much if any documentation related to his football career), we have the records of an Iowa meat packing company, the Rath Packing Company (MS-562).  The Steelers?  This might be a bit of a stretch, but we have the Sherwood DeForest Papers (RS 9/7/53).  DeForest worked for the Agricultural Marketing Department (1954-1977) of US Steel (USX) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and held the positions of Marketing Representative and Manager Marketing – Agricultural Equipment.

Hopefully this post has given you an idea of the variety of collections we hold here in the Special Collections Department of Parks Library, in addition to a little bit of athletic history!

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