About this Collection

2007 marks the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's rookie season for the Brooklyn Dodgers. When he stepped onto Ebbets field on April 15th, 1947, Robinson became the first African American in the twentieth century to play baseball in the major leagues -- breaking the "color line," a segregation practice dating to the nineteenth century. Jackie Robinson was an extremely talented multi-sport athlete and a courageous man who played an active role in civil rights. This presentation was created to commemorate his achievements and describe some aspects of the color line's development and the Negro Leagues. Materials that tell his story, and the history of baseball in general, are located throughout the Library of Congress. This web presentation was made possible by a generous gift from the Citigroup Foundation.

Selection Criteria

While the Library of Congress does not have collections that focus solely on Jackie Robinson, the baseball color line, or the Negro Leagues, diverse original materials relevant to all of these topics can be found through the Library's numerous reading rooms. With the goal of representing many different media, Library staff selected and reproduced approximately 30 interesting items created between the 1860s and the 1960s, including manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, and books. Narrative information drawn from encyclopedia articles, published biographies, and baseball histories established the context for understanding the original materials.

The Library holds additional original materials that could not be reproduced here, either because they are still under copyright protection (for example, NBC radio broadcasts), or, because digitization would be very expensive (for example, the full-length movie The Jackie Robinson Story).

This online presentation introduces a multi-faceted man and a variety of complex issues, topics, and events that risk oversimplification in any short retelling. Books listed in the Bibliography should be consulted for further information.

The breadth of resources at the Library of Congress is impressive, but other libraries and organizations also offer a wealth of information on these subjects. Selected sources are listed in the Related Web Sites section.

By Popular Demand: Images from the Prints and Photographs Division

Library patrons and staff often select pictorial materials from the Prints and Photographs Division for reproduction in books, exhibits, lectures, television documentaries, decorative calendars, research papers, and many other kinds of projects. Researchers arrange with the Library's Photoduplication Service to produce copies of selected items. Typically ordered are 8x10-inch prints or 4x5-inch color transparencies. In order to make the prints, the Photoduplication Service must create a copy negative, if none exists. Afterwards, those negatives and color transparencies are added to a file of high-demand images maintained by the Prints and Photographs Division.

In 1996, this file contained approximately 120,000 negatives and transparencies. The high demand image file serves as a ready reference source for many of the Library's most popular pictures. The high-demand image file complements the division's heavily used collections of original negatives, including its Selected Civil War Photographs , Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection (forthcoming), and Historic American Buildings Survey and Historic American Engineering Record collections.

Over time, the Library plans to place a significant percentage of the high-demand file online under the series title "By Popular Demand." The first group of images will consist of items which appear in staff-selected illustrated reference aids. Likely candidates will be guides relating to immigration at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The entire high-demand file covers a broad range of international subjects and popular American topics such as eyewitness drawings of the Civil War, photographs of Native Americans, historical prints by Currier & Ives, political cartoons, and portraits of prominent figures in many fields.