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Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Who Cancelled Edsel Ford's Detroit Lions Season Pass?

October 2, 2014 Archive Insight


Earlier this week we shared another set of items that were recently digitized for our online collections: football artifacts to supplement our latest traveling exhibit, Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One of those items is Edsel Ford’s 1934 season pass to home games of the Detroit Lions, which is actually on display inside the exhibit. In the picture of the pass you'll see that "Cancelled" is written in one of the top corners. After we shared the photo on Twitter yesterday Dave Birkett sent us this Tweet:

— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 1, 2014


The explanation wasn't included in the online narrative for the pass and actually had several of us scratching our own heads - why was the pass cancelled?  Thanks to Brian Wilson, Digital Processing Archivist at The Henry Ford, we found the answer. Here's Brian's report as he took a trip to our archives. - Lish Dorset Social Media Manager, The Henry Ford.

Object: “Edsel Ford's 1934 Season Pass for Detroit Lions Home Football Games” (Object ID

Question: Why is the word “Cancelled” written diagonally across the front face of the pass in the upper right hand corner?

Findings: The pass was originally sent to Edsel Ford in a letter dated 05 September 1934 (Object ID Letter can be seen here.

A second letter was sent by the Lions to Edsel Ford, dated 11 September 1934, providing more detail on the use of the pass. The letter states that the pass “…is good for one reserved seat for each game.” Apparently, the pass was to be presented at the box office and a reserved seat ticket would be issued to the pass holder. There were box offices located in the lobby of the Book Cadillac Hotel and at University of Detroit Stadium.

Finally, a third letter was sent by the Lions to Edsel Ford, dated 26 October 1934 and signed by G. A. Richards, President.

“Dear Sir:

The Admission Tax Revenue Act of 1934 makes it necessary for the Detroit National League Football Club to revise their present method of handling complimentary tickets.

Our records indicate that courtesy card #109 for the season 1934 was issued in your name. Hereafter we ask that you consider this card as cancelled and do not present it for complimentary tickets. In the future a complimentary pass will be mailed to you prior to each game [emphasis added].”


Answer: The federal government Revenue Act of 1934 required that a 10% tax be collected on each ticket, and so individual tickets needed to be issued in order to properly collect the tax. Because of this, Edsel's season pass was cancelled.

Brian Wilson is Manager, Library & Archives, at The Henry Ford.

20th century, 1930s, sports, research, Michigan, Ford family, football, Edsel Ford, Detroit, by Lish Dorset, by Brian Wilson

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