A message from Joe Gray, co-chair of SABR’s Project COBB chartered community, designed to study the history of British baseball:
Britain’s national newspaper repository at Colindale, which is an institution for amateur historians in Britain, is set to close by the end of next year so that the decaying materials can be better preserved and eventually digitized where possible. As such, I’m trying to pull together baseball researchers in Britain to make the most of our last off-season (generally, most people who would do research also have a baseball commitment during the season, and so history is normally a fall/winter activity).
A trip to Colindale is the quintessential newspaper research experience, and it is just like you see in films, with a choice between:
- microfiche pages scrolling in front of your eyes, perfect for a set-to-music research montage
- or – pages of old newspapers in oversized binders to ever-so-carefully turn through, ideal for a crash zoom on a crucial headline.
The need to better preserve the items currently held at Colindale cannot be denied by anyone who has carried out research there. When I was trawling through newspapers from 1890 looking for box scores, game reports, and other material on the British pro league that year, the edges of the pages were crumbling away in my fingers, and after I’d finished with one binder and walked away from my chair to get the next I’d notice a halo of flakes of yellowed paper around where I’d been sitting. Concerned that I was somehow mishandling the paper the first time I noticed this, I looked around to be reassured by numerous similar halos around the other desks. In fact, so pervasive are these flakes that they’ve earned their own moniker: “Colindale dandruff”.
I already have a number of projects in mind, including filling gaps in the national champions archive. To discuss one of the potential projects or — better still — to suggest your own idea, please get in touch by using the contact form here.
For more information on Project Cobb, visit its website at http://www.baseballgb.co.uk.
Originally published: July 1, 2011. Last Updated: July 1, 2011.