Clifford Keen Papers: 1925-1985
Summary Information
Title: Clifford Keen Papers
Creator: Keen, Clifford, 1901-
Dates: 1925-1985
Extent: 1 linear foot, 2 oversize volumes
University of Michigan wrestling coach. Correspondence, wrestling meet rosters and rules, scrapbooks and clippings, biographical and personal material, and photographs.
Call number: 861038 AC Aa 2
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
Home Page:
Finding aid prepared by: Daniel Cole

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was received from Mr. Keen in November 1985. Donor no. 7257

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see:


Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., Clifford Keen Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Clifford Keen was born in 1901 on a ranch in Western Oklahoma. He attended Oklahoma A & M (now known as Oklahoma State University) and was a star in football, track, and wrestling. He received All-American mention in football, sprinted in track, and was undefeated for three years as a wrestler. He was selected for the 1924 U.S. Olympic team, but did not compete because of a broken rib.

Keen became head wrestling coach at the University of Michigan in 1925. During the next 45 years he produced 13 Big Ten championship teams and 3 second place squads. His wrestlers won 11 individual national crowns and 81 Big Ten titles. He compiled a dual meet record of 268-91-9.

Keen served as a naval commander during World War II, after which he returned to Michigan to continue coaching. His 45-year tenure at the University of Michigan is one of the longest in collegiate coaching annals.

Keen served on the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1938 to 1952, and was manager of the U.S. team for the 1948 Olympic Games. He pioneered the development of safety equipment and head-gear for wrestlers, and started an athletic equipment company to which he has devoted much time since retiring from coaching in 1970. He has received numerous honors and awards, and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma in September, 1976.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Clifford Keen collection, consisting of 1 linear foot and 2 outsize volumes, is divided into 6 series: Biographical material, Correspondence, Wrestling Meet Rules and Rosters, Newspaper clippings, Business and Professional Activities, and Photographs.

Of special interest are 15 correspondence folders containing letters written primarily in the 1920s and 1930s. These are arranged alphabetically by individual and/or institution. Nearly all correspondence between universities is classified by the name of the institution. Some of the material, dated 1925, was written before Keen's move to the University of Michigan. Although not addressed to or written by Keen, these letters are included in the first correspondence folder. The last folder contains letters, 1971-1977, written and received after Keen's retirement. The collection includes two oversize scrapbooks which are of particular interest in that they contain newspaper clippings and photographs documenting Keen's activities from 1926 to 1955 and from 1955 to 1978. The volumes are arranged by wrestling season and include newspaper accounts of wrestling meets, feature stories on Keen and individual wrestlers, and team and individual photos.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Wrestling.
  • Wrestling.
  • Photographs.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Keen, Clifford, 1901-
  • University of Michigan. Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics.
  • University of Michigan -- Faculty.
  • Keen, Clifford, 1901-
  • University of Michigan -- Faculty.
  • University of Michigan -- Football.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Biographical [series]
Box   1  
Awards and Honors
Box   1  
Wrestling Meet Programs 1965, 1969, 1970
Correspondence [series]
Box   1  
Box   1  
1930-1936 (15 folders)

(arranged alphabetically)

Box   1  
Wrestling Meet Rosters And Rules [series]
Box   1  
1924-1927, 1934, 1940, 1963
Clippings and Scrapbooks [series]
Box   1  
Personal undated
Box   1  
Personal 1980s
Box   1  
Team achievements undated
Oversize Volume   1  
Scrapbook 1926-1955
Oversize Volume   2  
Scrapbook 1956-1978
Business and Professional Activities [series]
Box   1  
Cliff Keen Athletic Company (catalogues) 1985
Box   1  
Championship Wrestling 1973

(manual co-authored by Clifford Keen, Charles Speidel, and Ramond Swartz)

Photographs 1926-1978 [series]
Box   1  
Box   1  
Clifford Keen with teams, individual athletes, and non-athletic groups
Box   1  
Groups and individual athletes, identified
Box   1  
Wrestling Team Photos 1926-1931, 1933-1945, 1950-1953, 1955-1957

(Mostly Rentschler Studio prints removed from Vol. 1 of the Keen scrapbooks. Team Photos for 1946-1947 could not be removed from the scrapbook.)

Box   1  
150 pound football team 1947

(Includes assistant coach George Allen)