At the beginning of April, Foley Library chose to exhibit memorabilia that concentrates on the forgotten history of football at Gonzaga. The display, titled “Undefeated Since 1941: History of Gonzaga Football,” showcases 99 items that highlight GU’s historic football program and why it ended.
The exhibit was curated by GU junior Abby Tarantino, who is a history intern at GU this semester. The setup for this display was part of Tarantino’s biggest responsibilities during the semester.
“Basically, as a history intern, the main project is to create an exhibit out for the Reading Room on the third floor of the Library,” Tarantino said.
Tarantino’s supervisor showed her the school’s archives and suggested she put together an exhibit about the football team. Tarantino leaped at the opportunity.
GU didn’t just have a football team. It had a good football team. According to the exhibit, GU had one of the best football programs in the nation during the 1920s. This is mostly to the credit of former GU football coach Gus Dorias, who led the team to this golden age during that period.
In that span, GU became a ranked team in the country and competed with larger state schools in the region, such as University of Oregon, Washington State University and the University of Nevada.
To organize the exhibit, Tarantino had to do significant research and planning. Other than trying to find information from the archives, Tarantino was also responsible for setting up the display, including the specific focus of the display. These categories were separated into seven stages: introduction, rules and regulations, famous players and coaches, the football stadium, the era of Dorias, the fan experience and the famous Haskell Indian game.
“We had two players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and we had 16 players go on to play professionally,” Tarantino said. “That was the most interesting thing to me.”
This approach, one that lets an undergraduate history intern take control of a time-consuming project, was not always the way these displays were planned.
“Traditionally, the third-floor display area has been used to display materials from Gonzaga University Archives and Special Collections,” said Gonzaga Specials Collections Librarian, Stephanie Plowman. “I used to be the one installing a new exhibit three times a year and since it takes a lot of time, I have had my GU history intern create and install a display of his/her choice.”
The football exhibit is located on the third floor of the Foley Library in the Cowles Reading Room. The exhibit is open Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m.-2 a.m., Friday 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-2a.m. It will run through Oct. 31.