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National Women's Football League Collection

Identifier: MSSP 10087

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of printed material related to the National Women’s Football League (NWFL) and predecessor teams associated with the Women’s Professional Football League. The NWFL was a professional American tackle football league that existed from 1974 through 1988. The collection includes programs, yearbooks, guidebooks, ephemera, and clippings. The programs and yearbooks typically contain rosters, player bios and photographs, coaches bios and photographs, team histories, rules, articles, and advertisements.


  • Creation: 1972-1986

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

In the mid-1960s and early 1970s, promoters and coaches in several cities began organizing women’s American tackle football teams. Some of the earliest teams like the Cleveland Daredevils played games against men’s semi-pro and amateur teams and emphasized the novelty of women on the gridiron. Soon after, women’s football teams in different cities began competing against each other in serious athletic competitions. Promoter Sid Friedman of the Cleveland Daredevils organized a loose-knit Women’s Professional Football League (WPFL), but the teams played each other only irregularly without few formal league structures. The Toledo Troopers claimed WPFL titles after undefeated seasons in 1971 and 1972. The Troopers left the WPFL in 1973 after disagreements with Friedman.

In 1974, several leading women’s football teams, including the Toledo Troopers, the Los Angeles Dandelions, the Dallas Bluebonnets, and the Detroit Demons, founded the National Women’s Football League—an organized league with common rules and regular schedules. The inaugural season included seven teams: Dallas Bluebonnets, Fort Worth Shamrocks, Columbus Pacesetters, Toledo Troopers, Los Angeles Dandelion, California Mustangs, and Detroit Demons. The Toledo Troopers proved to be the dominant team in the league’s early seasons, winning or sharing championships in 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1977.

In 1976, the NWFL expanded to 16 teams across Eastern, Southern, and Western Divisions. The most successful of the new teams was the Oklahoma City Dolls, which won or shared league titles in 1976 and 1978. Most of the new NWFL teams, however, did not fare as well and several folded quickly. By the late 1970s, the NWFL faced financial difficulties and the long, cross-country distances caused the league to splinter. League powers, the Toledo Troopers and Oklahoma City Dolls both went out of business after the 1979 season. By 1982, the NWFL was a purely Midwestern league with franchises only in the states of Ohio and Michigan. The league ceased operations in 1988.


.25 Cubic Feet (1 half document case (legal-sized))

Language of Materials



Arranged by Team and then chronologically


Britni de la Cretaz and Lyndsey D’Arcangelo, Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League (New York: Bold Type Books, 2021).
Stephen Guinan, We Are the Troopers: The Women of the Winningest Team in Pro Football History (New York: Hachette Books, 2022).
Andrew W. Linden, “Revolution on the American Gridiron: Gender, Contested Space, and Women’s Football in the 1970s,” The International Journal of the History of Sport 32, no. 18 (2015): 2171-89.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556