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Glory Years

Through the generosity of the Green Bay Packers, fans can now see rare Packers yearbooks and other memorabilia on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Web site. More than 1,000 pages of Packers history have just been added to Turning Points in Wisconsin History, the Society’s newest collection of online materials (just type Packers in its search box). These include full-color images of Packers yearbooks, game programs, tickets, photographs, sideline passes and other ephemera from 1939 through 1967.

Every page of every yearbook produced during the Packers’ glory years under Vince Lombardi is included, beginning with the very first, 1960, and continuing through Lombardi’s departure in 1967. These contain hundreds of now-historic photographs of Packers giants such as Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Jerry Kramer and Bart Starr. A special 68-page Packers publication, The Lombardi Era of the Green Bay Packers (1959-1967), contains pictures and rosters of all the teams, as well as tributes to Lombardi by sports writers and photographs of him on and off the field. Schedules and rosters from the 1964, 1965 and 1966 teams (three straight league championship years) are included, as well as a 1963 letter from Lombardi to season ticket holders and the 1967 official Packers press kit prepared for the media, with all the vital statistics of the team. Even the advertisements reward investigation: “The girls girl-watchers watch drink Diet Pepsi” proclaims a full-page ad, in 1960s innocence, as a model clad in mini-skirt and turtle-neck walks past players’ turned heads.

Other Packers memorabilia at Turning Points predates the Lombardi era, including game programs from 1939, 1941, 1946, 1947 and 1948. Historic photographs show East Stadium (the old City Stadium), where the team played before construction of the new City Stadium, now Lambeau Field, in 1956-57. Souvenir booklets portray the dedication of Lambeau Field on September 29, 1957, and various printed ephemera, such as sideline passes and event tickets, round out the collection. Other photographs show tailgating fans and spectators at games, including the late Sen. Gaylord Nelson alongside Robert F. Kennedy at a game in 1962.

More recent online Packers history includes our Museum Object of the Week, featuring the jersey worn by Brett Favre during the Packers’ rout of the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on January 2, 2005. That game saw Favre pass for 196 yards and two touchdowns, capping his division title-winning season with 30 TDs and 4,000 yards gained. The Packers, who donated the jersey Favre wore that day to the Wisconsin Historical Museum, are also getting some highly visible attention in the next issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History. The Autumn 2005 issue features a cover story by former Wisconsin athlete Richard Van Scotter titled “Big Bay Blue: When Curly, Johnny Blood, and Green Bay Showed the Way.” The article highlights the early days of the Packers, including some of its early stars like Curly Lambeau and Johnny Blood, who played for The Pack in the 1930s.

The Turning Points in Wisconsin History collection contains much more of our heritage than just the Packers. Almost 1,000 documents — rare books, pictures, manuscripts, museum objects, maps, etc. — that total more than 25,000 pages are available free, 24/7, to every classroom, library, home and office with a Web connection. The history of every county and region of the state is represented, as well as every time period, from the prehistoric Copper Culture to recent Hmong immigrants.

All of the Packers materials were selected from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s library and archives collections. They could not have been shared without the generous permission of the copyright holder, the Green Bay Packers. So, as the season gets underway, take a few minutes to visit Turning Points in Wisconsin History, and type “Packers” in the search box.

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