CANTON, OHIO — The Pro Football Hall of Fame has obtained a rich collection of rare documents from the NFL’s early years.
The family of Edward “Dutch” Sternaman, a former player, coach and co-owner of the Chicago Bears, has donated the comprehensive collection of original documents — the most complete set of its type in the Hall of Fame’s collection.
Included are accounting ledgers, hand-written notes, correspondence, photos, game programs, play-by-play charts, coaching diagrams, books and other information that chronicles the first decade of the NFL and the Bears. Both were founded in 1920.
The collection also includes original documents for the signing of Red Grange in 1925 and his ensuing cross-country barnstorming tour with the Bears.
“This is without a doubt one of the most significant collections of documents that has ever been donated to the Hall of Fame,” Steve Perry, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s President/Executive Director, said Friday. “These rare documents are an incredible treasure and will be properly preserved by the Hall of Fame for the benefit of future generations of football scholars and fans.”
Sternaman, along with George Halas, was hired in 1920 by A. E. Staley to organize, coach and play for his Decatur Staleys, a team that became a charter member of the NFL. In 1921 Staley turned over the team to the two player-coaches with the understanding they would move the franchise to Chicago and, for the 1921 season, play as the Chicago Staleys. The following year Sternaman and Halas renamed their team the Chicago Bears. Sternaman ended his playing career following the 1930 season and had served as the team’s co-coach along with Halas though the 1929 season. In 1932 he sold his share of the Bears to Halas.