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January Artifact of the Month

Artifact: Football Helmet

Accession #: 2010.05.01

Year: 1930s


American football emerged out of an influence of rugby, football, and soccer. Walter Camp is widely considered the “Father of American Football”, having contributed to the sport through playing, coaching and sports writing. In its early stages, there was little to no protection used in the contact sport. Injuries suffered while playing were dismissed as part of the game. As football grew in popularity, however, new safety measures were developed. Leather pads and hardened helmets were introduced for the first time in 1920. This leather helmet was used in the 1930s and has holes for ears, ventilation at the top of the helmet, and no chin strap. From this point onwards, football helmets evolved into what we see today: plastic helmets, often complete with “bird cage” facemasks.

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