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Baseball Resources at the Library of Congress

Portals, Collections, and Databases

Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the ball game
Albert Von Tilzer (composer) and Jack Norworth (lyrics).
The New York Music Co., 1908.
Performing Arts Encyclopedia.

A treasure trove of baseball materials are available through the Library of Congress website. While some of these materials are scattered throughout the site (see the Features page for help locating them), several major portals, collections, and databases serve as gateways to the vast majority of the Library's online baseball content. These portals, collections, and databases are described below, along with a number of digital collections not focused exclusively on baseball but which nevertheless include significant and historic primary sources about the game. Finally, this page includes a section on how to search across the Library's portals, collections, and databases for baseball resources using the Library's main search engine.

Baseball Portals

Historic Baseball Resources

This guide to baseball resources at the Library of Congress, created to coincide with the opening of the 2008 Major League Baseball season, compiles major baseball resources at the Library of Congress. Choose from the navigational links on the left side of the home page to locate major baseball collections, as well as selected baseball images and audio and video presentations.

Themed Resources: Baseball

This guide, available through the Library's Teachers pages, includes a wealth of primary sources, lesson plans, exhibit and presentation items, curricular activity ideas, and other educational resources that can be used in the classroom to study American culture and values through the lens of baseball. Because the guide links to many baseball materials available on the Library's website and also offers suggested search terms for locating additional items in the Library's digital collections, it is useful not only to teachers and students, but to anyone interested in locating online baseball resources at the Library.

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Digital Collections (baseball-specific collections)

American Memory

The American Memory historical collections provide access to primary source materials such as letters, diaries, photographs, maps, sound recordings, and video recordings that serve as a record of American history and culture. The following American Memory collections constitute the major online baseball collections available through the Library of Congress. To learn more about baseball materials available in other American Memory collections, go here.

By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s

2007 marked 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.

Spalding Base Ball Guides, 1889-1939

Spalding Base Ball Guides, 1889-1939 comprises a historic selection of Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide and the Official Indoor Base Ball Guide. The collection reproduces 35 of the guides, which were published by the Spalding Athletic Company in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide was perhaps the premier publication of its day for the game of baseball. It featured editorials from baseball writers on the state of the game, statistics, photographs, and analysis of the previous season for all the Major League teams and for many of the so-called minor leagues across the nation. The 15 Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guides included in this online collection were published between 1889 and 1939. The Official Indoor Baseball Guide concerns a game unfamiliar to most contemporary baseball fans because its demise occurred almost beyond living memory. These guides, too, offer rules and “how-to’s” of the game, information on the game’s founding fathers, photographic illustrations of teams and players from across the land, and game statistics. The 20 Official Indoor Base Ball Guides included in this collection were published between 1903 and 1926.

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Digital Collections (non-baseball collections)

American Memory

The American Memory historical collections provide access to primary source materials such as letters, diaries, photographs, maps, sound recordings, and video recordings that serve as a record of American history and culture. This section identifies American Memory collections, excluding those mentioned above, that include significant baseball-related resources. For many collections, baseball-related subject headings or suggested keywords are provided. Click on any subject heading or keyword to access a list of items in the collection available through it.

Collection: American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920
Content: Includes a photograph of children playing baseball.

Collection: American Notes: Travels in America, 1750-1920
Content: A number of narratives that discuss or mention baseball can be found by conducting a full-text search on the terms baseball and base ball. Selecting the Text option for any item link will allow you to browse for the section(s) of each narrative that discuss the game.

Collection: An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera
Content: A bibliographic search on baseball returns one broadside, as does a bibliographic search on base ball.

Collection: The American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920
Content: Includes several scripts under the subject heading athletics -- baseball.

Collection: Newspaper Pictorials: World War I Rotogravures, 1914-1919
Content: Includes several baseball images from the New York Times.

Collection: Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929
Content: Several photographs can be found by searching on the keyword baseball.

Collection: The South Texas Border, 1900-1920: Photographs from the Robert Runyon Collection
Content: Three photographs can be found by search on the keyword baseball.

Collection: The Stars and Stripes: The American Soldiers' Newspaper of World War I, 1918-1919
Content: Many articles about baseball can be found by searching on the keyword baseball or on individual or team names.

Collection: Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years
Content: Includes Branch Rickey's scouting report on Don Drysdale (June 15, 1954).

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Chronicling America

Chronicling America is a free, national, searchable database of historic American newspaper pages published between 1880 and 1922. Through Chronicling America users can search more than one million newspaper pages to trace the early history of baseball as documented by the American press.

The Library's Newspapers and Current Periodical Reading Room has created two topic guides related to baseball:

Baseball's Modern World Series

Highlights newspaper articles about the World Series in Chronicling America and provides suggested search terms for locating other relevant articles.

Bloomer Girls

Highlights newspaper articles about bloomer girls (all-women baseball teams who typically played against amateur, semi-pro, and minor league men's teams) in Chronicling America and provides suggested search terms for locating other relevant articles.

The Chicago "Black Sox" Scandal

Highlights newspaper articles about the Black Sox scandal in Chronicling America and provides suggested search terms for locating other relevant articles.

Suggested Search Terms

General terms: baseball, base ball, World Series

Individuals: Connie Mack, Fielder Jones, Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance, etc.

Teams: Pittsburg Pirates (note that the spelling "Pittsburgh" did not occur until 1920), Boston Americans, New York Giants, Philadelphia Athletics, Chicago White Sox, Chicago White Stockings, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, etc.

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Performing Arts Encyclopedia

The Performing Arts Encyclopedia (PAE) is a guide to performing arts resources at the Library of Congress. The PAE provides information about, and in many cases digitized versions of, the Library's collections of scores, sheet music, audio recordings, films, photographs, and other materials. The PAE includes 147 digitized pieces of baseball sheet music in its collections.

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Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

The Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) provides access through group or item records to about 75% of the Prints and Photographs Division's holdings, as well as to some images found in other units of the Library of Congress. More than 1.2 million digital are available. PPOC provides an opportunity for users to unearth a visual history of baseball in America through photographs of teams, players, managers, coaches, stadiums, and fans.

PPOC includes one major baseball collection:

Baseball Cards (from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection)

This collection presents a Library of Congress treasure -- 2,100 early baseball cards dating from 1887 to 1914. The cards show such legendary figures as Ty Cobb stealing third base for Detroit, Tris Speaker batting for Boston, and pitcher Cy Young posing formally in his Cleveland uniform. Other notable players include Connie Mack, Walter Johnson, King Kelly, and Christy Mathewson.

Cigarette card collector Benjamin K. Edwards preserved these baseball cards in albums with more than 12,000 other cards on many subjects. After his death, Edwards' daughter gave the albums to noted poet and Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg, who donated them to the Library's Prints and Photographs Division in 1954.

Other collections of note include:

Collection: Ansel Adams's Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar
Content: Includes two images of Japanese Americans observing an amateur baseball game.

Collection: Detroit Publishing Company
Content: Nine photographs can be found through a keyword search on baseball.

Collection: Gottscho-Schleisner Collection
Content: Five images of baseball fields and school baseball games can be found through a keyword search on baseball.

Collection: Horydczak Collection
Content: Includes photographs under the subject headings Baseball, Baseball players, Stadiums, and Crowds.

Collection: Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives
Content: includes more than 180 images are returned through a keyword search on baseball.

Collection: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey
Content: A keyword search on baseball returns several records for baseball fields, stadiums, and facilities, including Shibe Park.

Collection: Panoramic Photographs
Content: Relevant subject headings include Baseball, Baseball players--1920-1930, Stadiums, Sports spectators, and World Series (Baseball). Also try searching on keywords such as baseball, individual and team names, National League, American League, and several headings on the World Series.

Suggested Search Terms

General terms: baseball, base ball, World Series

Individuals: Connie Mack, Cy Young, Ty Cobb, etc.

Teams: Boston Americans, New York Giants, Philadelphia Athletics, Chicago White Sox, Chicago White Stockings, Detroit Tigers, etc.

Browsing by Subject and Format

Use the catalog's online thesaurus to locate appropriate subject headings related to baseball. Each subject heading is hyperlinked; selecting the heading will result in the display of all images under that heading in the catalog. Examples of headings include baseball, baseball players, and baseball managers.

The catalog also includes a subject browse option through which users can browse headings for baseball-related subject headings.

Users should also check the bibliographic records of relevant images to see whether they have been assigned subject headings. These subject headings will also be hyperlinked and will lead to other images assigned the same heading. For example, this image of Babe Ruth includes two relevant subject headings, Ruth, Babe,--1895-1948, and Baseball players--1920, that will lead to other images or Ruth and baseball players from the 1920s, respectively.

Users can browse the collections of Prints and Photographs Online Catalog by format as well. Baseball-related formats that can be searched include:

Finally, several selections of baseball images from the Prints and Photographs Division can be found through Pictorial Americana, an online version of a 1955 Library publication, and the Historic Baseball Resources portal.

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Other Digital Collections

In addition to the digital collections and databases mentioned above, there are many other digital collections that feature baseball-related materials on the Library's website. Some of these collections are mentioned below. For suggestions on using the Library's main search engine to locate additional materials, see our Features page.

Collection: America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894-1915
Content: Includes an 1898 Thomas Edison video, "The ball game."

Collection: American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
Content: Search on the keywords baseball and base ball to find a number of life histories discussing the game.

Collection: Frontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training
Content: A full-text search on baseball returns several interviews with diplomats in which they recollect early baseball memories or instances involving baseball during their diplomatic service.

Collection: Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1820-1860 & 1870-1885
Content: Includes sheet music for "The Base Ball" (1874).

Collection: Omaha Indian Music
Content: Includes several images of baseball games and a recording of an emcee introducing a famous Omaha baseball pitcher.

Collection: Sports Byline USA Radio Series
Content:
A collection of recorded sports interviews originally broadcast on the radio network program Sports Byline USA, hosted by Emmy Award-winning broadcaster Ron Barr, between 1988 and 2003. More than 20 interviews are currently available for listening on a streaming basis, and more programs will be added. Baseball players whose interviews are currently available online include Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Jose Canseco.

Collection: Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia
Content: Three audio recordings can be found through a keyword search on baseball.

Collection: Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film
Content: Includes two videos of President Theodore Roosevelt at Oriole Park.

Collection: Voices from the Dust Bowl: the Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, 1940-1941
Content: Includes one image of a baseball game at the Tulare Migrant Camp, Visalia, California (1940).

Collection: Working in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting
Content: Four photographs can be found under the subject heading Baseball players.

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Using the Library's Search Engine

Most of the Library's free online portals, collections, and databases, with the major expection of the Chronicling America historic newspapers database, can searched through the Library's primary search engine, located on the Library's home page as well as at http://www.loc.gov/search/.

The Library's search engine takes advantage of "faceted searching," which allows users to refine the results of an initial keyword search, or to browse for content, using various categories of information (facets) related to items in the Library's physical and online collections. To view available facets, go to http://www.loc.gov/search/ and examine the options in the "Refine your search" column at the left of the page:

Library search facets

Major facets available include Original Formats; Online Formats; Dates; Sites and Collections; Contributors; Subjects; Locations; and Languages. Under each major facet are numerous, more specific facets that you can select to narrow a results set. (Also note that the default for search results is to display materials available online. Select "All Items" to change the list of results to include records for items in the Library's physical collections as well.)

The most important major facet for identifying baseball-related material on the Library's website is the Subjects facet:

Library Subjects facet

Select "More Subjects" at the bottom of this facet to open up a larger list of subjects:

Expanded list of Subjects facets

This larger list of subjects is arranged by number of matches, from the subject with the most available items to the subject with the least. You can browse this list to find subjects related to baseball, or you can access the main subject page baseball for at http://www.loc.gov/search/index/subject/?fa=subject%3Abaseball. Here is what it looks like:

Main Subjects page for "Baseball"

The default arrangement is by number of matching items, though the list can be sorted alphabetically as well. Once you find a subject in which you are interested, select it to be brought to a list of items on the Library's website assigned that subject. For example, if you are interested in baseball songs and music, select the "Songs and Music" heading:

Songs and Music facet within subject "Baseball"

This will bring you to a results page listing items in the online collection assigned both of the subjects "Baseball" and "Songs and Music":

Results list for "Baseball" and "Songs and Music"

You can browse this list of results or resort them using the "View" option. If you want to further refine your results, you can again use the facets available from the "Refine Your Results" column at the left. For instance, if you want to narrow your results to songs published in 1908, go to the Dates facet and select "1900-1999":

Main "Dates" facets

Once you select this date range, the facets listed under Dates will automatically adjust to present a refined list of dates from which to choose, this time by decade:

Dates by decade

When you choose a decade, the list will again be refined, this time by individual year. After selecting "1900 to 1909" you can the choose "1908 to 1908" from the more refined listed of Dates facets to be brought to the one item in our online collections that matches a search for items published in 1908 with the subjects "Baseball" and "Songs and Music":

Results list for 1908

Keep in mind that every facet can be refined in this manner, including the Subjects facet. For example, if you select "Songs and Music" from the primary list of Baseball subjects, the newly refined list of subject facets will include more granular subjects from which to choose:

Subject facets for "Baseball" and "Songs and Music"

Clicking on the "More Subjects" link will open the complete listing of refined subject facets from which you can choose, again indicating at the right of each subject how many items can be found under the heading:

Complete list of facets for "Baseball" and "Songs and Music"

Leveraging the power of faceted searching from the Library's faceted search home page, as well from the main Subjects page for baseball, you can quickly and efficiently mine much of the Library's online baseball-related content to find exactly the types of resources in which you are interested.

Finally, before using the Library's main search box and faceted search options, consider reviewing the Library's Search Help page, which gives tips on several search techniques, including how best to search the site by keyword.

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  May 7, 2015
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