Skip to main content

Jay Robertson Football Playbooks, Scouting Reports, and Game Plans

Identifier: 31/6/118

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of football playbooks, scouting reports and game plans from the periods 1959-1962 and 1967-1972. The materials dating from the years 1959 through 1962 were used at Northwestern during Robertson’s collegiate playing career and reflect a portion of the coaching tenure of the noted Ara Parseghian at Northwestern. The playbooks were issued to players at the start of pre-fall practice, which always started on September 1, the earliest date any NCAA team could begin practice for the upcoming season. The scouting reports were given to players at the Monday evening meeting after training table, the purpose of which was to familiarize the team with the next opponent.

During "Spring Practice," an NCAA-approved 36-day period in the spring (usually during the month of April at Northwestern), the team had 20 official practices in full equipment.  During these practices, Parseghian would draw plays on a blackboard and players would copy them in materials they had been issued for that purpose.  Over the summer, the coaches would review the progress of the team during the 20 spring sessions and assemble an offense and defense to be used that season.  Once the coaches agreed on their assembled offense and defense, the playbooks were printed, assembled, and distributed.  They were used throughout the preseason practices and were turned in the week of the first game to be placed in storage.  Players were allowed to obtain their playbooks once their eligibility had expired, usually between their last game and graduation.

The playbooks, scouting reports, and game plans from the years 1967 through 1972 were used by Robertson during his time as an assistant coach at Northwestern University and provide detailed information on Northwestern’s football strategy under another of the game’s noteworthy coaches, Alex Agase.

Discription of the Addition:

The first addition to the collection were 4 audio-tapes of Northwestern football games from the 1962 season, now a separation from the collection that was transferred to the Audio-Visual Collection belonging to the University Archives. The second addition to the collection, also a separation now in the University Archives Audio-Visual Collection, was a film of Northwestern Football game highlights from the 1962 season.

The third addition to the collection contains four items and two separations. The collection includes an autographed football Robertson received as the "game ball" following Northwestern’s victory over Notre Dame in the 1962 Homecoming game. Also included is an autographed 1949 Rosebowl program given to Robertson by a Northwestern classmate of his father, Nelson J Culver. The addition includes a set of cards from Robertson’s first trip as a scout for Northwestern in 1967 to watch Missouri play Southern Methodist University. The original binder that held the 1962 playbook has been added to the collection and is housed with the playbook.

Included as a separation is a photograph of Robertson shaking Otto Graham’s hand was taken when Robertson was a high school football player in Kansas City in 1957. Also included as a separation was a film with footage of fumbles made by Northwestern during the 1958 and 1959 seasons that the team studied to prevent turnovers.


  • 1949-1972
  • Other: Date acquired: 02/08/2012


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of the materials in the department for research; all patrons must comply with federal copyright regulations.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


5.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Football playbooks, scouting reports and game plans from the periods 1959-1962 and 1967-1972 from Donald A. "Jay" Robertson, Jr., a football player and coach at Northwestern University, and a coach at other unviersities and for National Football League teams.


The playbooks, scouting reports and game planes are arranged in chronological order.

Source of Acquisition


Method of Acquisition

The contents of Boxes 1-3 (playbooks, scouting reports, and game plans) was donated to the University Archives by Jay Robertson on August 2, 2012, as Accession #12-157. Four audio-tapes of Northwestern football games were donated by Jay Robertson on July 27, 2012 as Accession #12-146.  The 1962 football film was donated as an addition to the collection by Jay Robertson on October 1, 2012 as Accession #12-231. Additional materials (the football, playbook cover, and 16mm film) were donated by Jay Robertson on October 4, 2012 as Accession #12-212. The contents of Box 4, as well as the photograph of Robertson and Otto Graham, were donated by Jay Robertson on May 29, 2013 as Accession #13-260.

Separated Materials

16mm film with clips from 1958 and 1959 football seasons were transferred to the University Archives’ Audio-Visual Collection as #1321 MP.

One photo of Jay Robertson shaking hands with Otto Graham when Graham visited Robertson’s high school in 1957 was transferred to the Photographic Collection.

A 1934 edition of the Purple Searchlight was included in the general collection for NU Delta Upsilon. Documents were also transferred to the biographical files of Lt. William Eadie and Nelson Culver.

Four audiotapes were transferred to the University Archives’ Audio-Visual Collection. AT#2210 and AT#2211 are audio recordings of the NU v. Oklahoma game (September 26, 1959), #AT2212 is an audio recording of the NU v. Minnesota game (October 13, 1962), and AT#2213 is an audio recording of the NU v. Wisconsin game (November 10, 1962).

A film of NU Football Game Highlights from 1962 was transferred to the Audio-Visual Collection as #1322 MP.

Guide to the Jay Robertson Football Playbooks, Scouting Reports, and Game Plans
Ari Sillman and Benn Joseph, 2012; Hannah Springer, 2014.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US