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Topics in Chronicling America - Bloomer Girls: All-girls novelty act sweeps country playing baseball

"Bloomer girls" take to the baseball diamond challenging amateur, semi-pro, and minor league men's teams in front of thousands of spectators. Known for wearing practical, loose Turkish-style trousers created by Amelia Bloomer, hundreds of teams 'barnstormed' the country during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, providing women an opportunity to travel and play this traditionally all-male sport. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.

Cartoon from the San Francisco Call, July 15, 1901, page 8

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Important Dates:

  • 1866: Formation of two women’s baseball teams: the Laurel Base Ball Club and the Abenakis at Vassar Female College, Poughkeepsie, NY.
  • 1868: First non-collegiate women’s team was organized in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
  • 1875: First women’s baseball game for which fans were charged and women players were paid - played between the “Blondes” and the “Brunettes” in Springfield, Illinois on September 11.
  • 1890s-1930’s: Novelty act of women playing baseball attracts fans from across the country. Bloomer Girl teams from cities such as Boston and New York, travel around the nation playing local teams. Allowing for easier play, the preferred “bloomer” style of dress (attributed to suffragette Amelia Jenks Bloomer), becomes synonymous with women’s baseball.
  • 1911: Maud Nelson (former Boston Bloomer Girls and Star Bloomer Girls standout), forms and manages Western Bloomer Girls team along with husband, Joe Olson.

Suggested Search Terms:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Bloomer Girls (Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Western); Baseball aggregation; Maud Nelson; Barnstorming; Ladies Baseball Club; Scratch nine (Occurred when girls were asked to play on a men’s baseball team); Local nine (Group of baseball players to play against the travelling Bloomer Girls team); Topper (Title attached to a male dressing as a female (donning a wig, etc.) to play on women’s baseball team)

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  March 18, 2017
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