With the XXX Olympiad being held in London, this seems like an opportune time to highlight the achievements of one of RPI’s most illustrious athletic teams. After an undefeated season, coach Ned Harkness took the lacrosse team to London to compete in a demonstration game in the 1948 Olympics. Along the way, the team soundly defeated several English teams, and played to a thrilling 5-5 tie against an English all-star team. What a great opportunity for me to share some really cool stuff from the archives!
For starters, we have quite a few photos of the 1948 team in our image database. Some depict players practicing on the ’86 Field, while others capture the fund raising effort to cover the team’s travel expenses. Many photos document the team’s trip from Troy to New York City, where they embarked on their oceanic journey aboard the Marine Flasher.
One of my favorite items is a souvenir program which was sold for 35 cents to help fund the trip. It’s filled with information about lacrosse, team history, advertisements, schedules, etc. It also contains team and individual photos, as well as a nice section about Ned Harkness in the early days of his coaching career.
While we don’t have any 1948 game photos, we recently acquired an original programme from Wembley stadium on August 5, the day Rensselaer faced off against its All-England opponent. Someone’s penciled notes of the scoring are barely visible on one page.
But the pièce de résistance has to be the “Lacrosse Clipping Book 1948” I found in the archives a few years ago. There are no clues as to who compiled it, but its pages contain a wealth of information – clippings about games and players, photos, programs from some of the matches in England, and even a letter from the secretary of the English Lacrosse Union thanking RPI President Livingston Houston for facilitating the team’s trip. It’s a unique and awesome compilation, and it’s available online via Rensselaer Digital Collections.
The Institute Archives is not the only collector of Rensselaer lacrosse memorabilia. For additional clippings, check out this piece from the RPI Athletics Office. And read an Albany Times-Union article about one of the co-captains, Martin Davis, and his gold medal. It’s great to know that archivists aren’t the only people who still cherish artifacts from an event that took place sixty-four years ago!
I was lucky enough to know one of these players later in life, Spencer Spaulding, who has recently passed. I would love to have copies of the team pictures and any memorabilia with his information on it. If you would be kind enough to email any digital items you're willing to share, I would appreciate it.
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