You’ve come a long way, Truman!

MU’s mascot, chosen in 1890, has been through some changes
Sunday, October 14, 2007 | 3:00 p.m. CDT; updated 10:29 a.m. CST, Tuesday, December 9, 2008

1864 Pro-Confederate guerrilla leader William “Bloody Bill” Anderson orchestrated numerous attacks against Missouri and Kansas communities throughout the Civil War. In preparation for such an attack, an armed guard of Columbia citizens was formed. A blockhouse was constructed at the corner of Eighth Street and Broadway, and a wide trench was built around the old courthouse. The guards stood post day and night until the end of the war. The guerrillas never came. The celebrated guards were called the Columbia Tigers.


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1890 MU created its football team and competed for the first time. The formation of a football team prompted MU to choose an animal mascot, as was in vogue with other major universities at the time. Missouri’s state animal, the bear, was considered but ultimately rejected for its lack of appealing colors. The tiger was decided upon in honor of the local Civil War heroes.

1892 Records show that players at the first football game wore crimson and old gold. It’s also been cited that the color blue was associated with the university in its early years. By 1892, black and gold were adopted as MU’s official colors. Some sources say the decision was made in an effort to imitate the Princeton Tigers, whose colors were already black and old gold.

1958 Susan Bierman, 1961 Missouri School of Journalism graduate, became the first MU student to suit up and bring the Mizzou tiger to life. Bierman and some friends fashioned a tiger costume out of a yellow sheet and painted on stripes and a papier-mâché head. She kept her gig as the tiger until she graduated. She even traveled to the Orange Bowl with the football team — the Mizzou tiger was one of the first U.S. mascots to do so.

1970 MU’s yearbook, the Savitar, mentions the university using live tigers as mascots at sporting events as recently as the 1970s.

1981 The MU Athletic Department purchased new mascot uniforms that “won’t be identifiable by sex.” Until 1981, a male, “Big Tiger,” and a female, “Lil’ Tiger,” mascot made simultaneous appearances at events.

1986 The Mizzou tiger was officially given the name “Truman.” In 1984, a contest sponsored by MU cheerleaders was developed “to seek an identity for our school mascot.” The winner, a student, submitted the name in honor of former U.S. President Harry S. Truman, a Missouri native.

1987 MU graduates Wendell and Ruth Arbuckle established an endowment to support ice-cream research on the MU campus. Truman lended a hand (and a few stripes) in whipping up the first batch of Tiger Stripe Ice Cream.

1999 In an effort to reverse the extinction threats facing Bengal tigers in the wild, the Mizzou Tigers for Tigers group was established.

2004 Truman was named the National Cheerleading Association’s National Mascot of the Year.

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zachary clayton May 8, 2009 | 2:42 a.m.

Looks good. Awesome job. My favorite tiger mascot. You can see more exciting pictures on


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