Baseball cards were first created by tobacco companies, which inserted the cards into their products as an advertising gimmick. Therefore, Baseball Cards, 1887-1914 provides students an entry point to studying the history of one of America's oldest industries.
The history of tobacco as a cultivated crop goes back to Native Americans. When Christopher Columbus arrived in North America he found native peoples growing tobacco. Colonists in the South established plantations to grow this agricultural product. The industry developed into a lucrative business with both domestic and foreign sales. Today, federal, state, and local taxes on tobacco are a great source of revenue for governments.
Students can browse the collection by Card Set, and read the tobacco industry's advertisements on the back of the cards. For background to their study of this collection, students can research the history of tobacco in America. They can look at the smoking habits of Americans at the turn of the century. And they can do a search of tobacco in congress.gov for current legislation reflecting the issues that surround the tobacco industry today.