Fordin: Library of Congress offers window into baseball’s evolution

From Spencer Fordin at on December 26, 2014:

The nation’s greatest storehouse of knowledge has developed a healthy baseball habit. The Library of Congress has traced the history and maturation of America for more than 200 years, and baseball has weaved its way into the national consciousness in surprising ways.

First, there are the intimate touches — the century-old photographs of the first baseball teams and the Civil War-era paintings of teams playing the game. And then there are the letters, buried deep in the personal papers of great historic figures that tell of the game’s tangential connections to history.

The Library of Congress — burned down in The War of 1812 and later replenished from Thomas Jefferson’s personal library — houses the papers of more than 20 American Presidents, and baseball executive Branch Rickey donated more than 80 boxes worth of memories just waiting to be documented.

The amazing part, though, is the staggering array of information available to the public on baseball and every other subject. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and has more than 120 million items on the shelves, and its holdings are organized into several different massive departments.

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Originally published: December 29, 2014. Last Updated: December 29, 2014.