The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Famous footballs on display at Cushing

Photo by Photo by Annie Lui

Cushing Library is currently displaying footballs signed by the national championship-winning 1939 Aggie football team. 

Three recently restored footballs bearing the signature of the 1939 Aggie football national champions help bring the story of Texas A&M in the Great Depression to life.
The footballs are displayed at the Cushing Library’s current exhibit, “A Time of Great Resolve.” This free exhibit depicts the hardships faced by A&M during the economic depression of the 1930s and presents the footballs among other university-related artifacts from the decade. The exhibit will be on display until Feb. 22 when all items owned by Cushing, including the three footballs, will be reshelved but remain available to students upon request.
University archivist Greg Bailey said the three footballs each commemorate a different game.
“Those are the only three we have,” Bailey said. “[One football] after the first game of the season against Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State. One after the game against the University of Texas, which was the last game of the regular season. And one after the Sugar Bowl victory, when they became national champions.”
Preparing the footballs for display took months due to the deflated state they were in when the university acquired them, Bailey said.
“[We had to] get the footballs pliable to inflate them and then make sure that the bladders were able to hold the air and then close them back off, so it took a number of months to get them restored,” Bailey said.
The national championship is an important moment in A&M’s history, and Bailey said artifacts such as the footballs are able to connect people with the past in a more personal way.
“One of the big aspects of the 1930s for A&M was obviously the national championship,” Bailey said. “Those footballs deal directly with that. It’s a different way to interest people. … A photograph or document might not elicit an emotion from someone as much as seeing an artifact.”
Reading room and front desk coordinator Leslie Winter said the archives and artifacts housed in Cushing Library are important because they allow students to experience primary sources firsthand.
“They’re open for anyone to see,” Winter said. “Being curious is valid. You don’t have to have a class assignment. … Everything we’re doing here is to make sure you see something. If you go back to primary source, it’s hard to have an opinion that’s biased.”
Oceanography freshman Henry Woods Johnson said he saw Cushing as a peaceful place to study, but said he paid little attention to the items in the library until he noticed the exhibit.
“I found that the peace and quiet and not having as many distractions is a much better environment,” Johnson said. “Beside studying, I haven’t really looked around to see what they have here at Cushing. But as I’m entering and leaving today, I was looking at the uniforms they have in the corners and it was interesting to see the history that they have here.”
Looking at these artifacts piqued his interest, Johnson said. His curiosity led him to wonder what else might be stored at Cushing.
“I think it’d be awesome to see what they have,” Johnson said. “I would love to see what’s the oldest thing they have here, how far back do the archives go. Just to see the history of A&M.”

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