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BASEBALL RESEARCH AT THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Dave Kelly

December 2001

 

NOTE: Although this guide is intended mainly for researchers who have not used the Library of Congress before, it may also be useful to those who have not used the Library in some time.

[1] Getting Started

The Library of Congress is on Capitol Hill and comprises three buildings (Jefferson --["LJ"], Adams ["LA"], and Madison["LM"]) connected by tunnels; initial access should be made at the front door of any of the buildings. The Library of Congress is a closed stack library. Except for reference materials on open shelves in the various reading rooms, material must be requested using call slips available in the individual reading rooms. The time it takes to deliver material that has been requested varies by reading room and collection. Some reading rooms can retrieve materials in as little as 15 minutes; books and bound periodicals generally take from one to one and a half hours. In some instances, material must be brought in from off-site storage and can take 24 hours; there are no deliveries of off-site materials on Saturday. A Library issued user card is required to request materials from the stacks. User cards are free and must be renewed every 2 years. They are issued by Reader Registration (Madison Building LM 140). A picture ID with current address is necessary to obtain a user card; the process takes about 15 minutes, but may take longer if others are waiting. Some reading rooms (Manuscript, Prints and Photographs) require additional registration. Additionally, some reading rooms (Main, Manuscript, Prints and Photographs, Rare Book) restrict materials that may be brought in. If this is a concern it may be advisable to contact the specific reading room before coming to the Library. More detailed information can be found on the home pages of individual reading rooms (see below) and in the publication Information for Researchers. A paper copy may be requested by writing to:

Humanities and Social Sciences Division

101 Independence Avenue SE

Library of Congress

Washington DC 20540-4660

or by email: hssref@loc.gov

The Library of Congress home page is at http://lcweb.loc.gov

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Main Reading Room LJ 100

8:30 am-9:30 pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday,

8:30 am-5:00 pm, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday

The Main Reading Room reference collection has the best open-shelf baseball collection available for consultation, but it is by no means exhaustive, due to space limitations. Titles include Grobani, Smith’s Comprehensive Baseball Bibliography and its two supplements, Total Baseball, The Baseball Encyclopedia, Neft and Cohen, Green Cathedrals, The Ballplayers, Dickson’s Baseball Dictionary, and several baseball quotation books.

Newspaper and Current Periodicals Reading Room LM 133

8:30 am-9:30 pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday

8:30 am-5:00 pm, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday

Perhaps the most important resource for baseball research at the Library of Congress is the extensive collection of American newspapers. The Library has all major US dailies, including every 20th century Major League city and most from the 19th century as well. In many cases, depending on the year, there may be more than one paper for each city. Coverage for minor league cities, particularly the low minors, is more problematic. State libraries are usually a more consistent source for papers from smaller cities. The collection also includes an excellent collection of African-American newspapers. http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/news/blackpr.html. A list of current newspapers received can be accessed at http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/news/ncr.html.

Search for commonly used newspapers on microfilm at http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/news/cunom_us.html.

Microform Reading Room LJ 139B

8:30 am-9:30 pm, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday,

8:30 am-5:00 pm, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday

The Microform Reading Room houses books and periodicals that have been microfilmed for preservation purposes. Titles include Reach Guides, Sporting Life, The Sporting News, Baseball Magazine, and USA Today Baseball Weekly. The Library’s collection of doctoral dissertations is accessible through this reading room.

Manuscript Reading Room LM 101

8:30 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday

The papers of Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey, and Arthur Mann are held in the Manuscript Reading Room. The Jackie Robinson Papers are closed until they have been processed. Their collections include the papers of many Supreme Court justices, which would be useful to those interested in baseball’s antitrust exemption or Curt Flood, for example.

Prints and Photographs Reading Room LM 339

8:30 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Friday

As its name implies, this reading room holds the Library’s extensive collection of still images. Many of these can be found online searching American Memory http://memory.loc.gov; more still can be found by searching the Prints and Photographs online catalog http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html

Geography and Map Reading Room LM B01

8:30 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Friday

This reading room has a large collection of fire insurance maps. These were published by the Sanborn and Baist companies, among others. They are large-scale maps of cities throughout America and have very detailed information on home and building construction materials. Most of these cities had a ballpark. They are especially useful, for example, in researching how a stadium may have been rebuilt after a fire.

Performing Arts Reading Room LM 113

8:30 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday

The Performing Arts Reading Room is shared by the Music Division and the Recorded Sound Section of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division. The Music Division has custody of the Library’s baseball sheet music. The Recorded Sound Section services the Library's audio recordings. These include game broadcasts and baseball music and can be on LP, tape, CD, etc. The Recorded Sound Section should be contacted prior to coming to the Library, as an appointment for listening is required and restrictions apply.

Motion Picture and Broadcasting Reading Room LM 336

8:30 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Friday

Houses baseball films and videos in the Library’s collections. An appointment for viewing is necessary. Contact them directly for details prior to coming to the Library.

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[2] The General Collections

The Library’s book and bound periodical collections published after 1800 are referred to as the "general collections." Material in the general collections can be requested either in the Main Reading Room in the Jefferson Building or the Science, Technology and Business Reading Room on the 5th floor of the Adams Building. Almost all of the Library’s baseball books have call numbers beginning with the letters GV and are shelved in the Adams Building. It is always much faster to request books in the building in which they are located, avoiding having them sent to a different building. For books whose call numbers do not begin with GV, consult either a reference librarian or Book Service staff at the circulation desk for the location. The Library’s computer catalog can be accessed at http://www.loc.gov/catalog/

It is important to note that the Library makes a distinction between newspapers and periodicals (alternately called serials or magazines). All newspapers (except those in non -western alphabets) are kept in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room (LM 133). This reading room also has unbound, current periodicals, usually no more than two years old. Once periodicals are bound, they are housed in the general collections stacks (Jefferson or Adams Building, depending on call number). Microfilms of newspapers are in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room. Microfilms of serials are in the Microform Reading Room. Some titles (Sports Illustrated) are available both as a bound paper copy and on microfilm.

Interlibrary Loan. The Library of Congress does lend some titles to other libraries, but not to individuals. Requests must be initiated by the borrowing library. Examples of materials that do not circulate are bound periodicals and newspapers and periodicals on microfilm that are heavily used at the Library.

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[3] Indexes and Abstracts

The Library subscribes to numerous electronic indexes, although in many cases coverage is limited to the last twenty years. Unlike the computer catalog for book holdings, these indexes must be searched on site. Most, but not all, of these indexes are also issued in print editions that predate the electronic version. The online bibliographic record in the computer catalog should indicate in which reading room(s) the hard copy is located. If in doubt, consult a reference librarian.

The following is a list of those that might be useful for baseball research, although it should be noted that the Library’s subscriptions are subject to change. Since these indexes are available commercially, they are also available at many public and academic libraries.

 

[A] FIRSTSEARCH

FirstSearch is a database vendor that currently offers approximately 100 online indexes. The Library of Congress subscription includes about 50. Likely to be the most useful are:

"Newsabs" (Newspaper Abstracts)

Indexes about 50 high circulation US newspapers including the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal.

"Readersguideabs" (Readers Guide Abstracts)

This is the online version of Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, covering magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, etc.

"Dissertations" (Dissertation Abstracts)

A comprehensive list of US and Canadian doctoral dissertations. Searchable by keyword for author, title, and abstract since 1981; author and title only for previous years. The Library has those dissertations microfilmed by University Microfilms International, currently over one million. Canadian dissertations are excluded; these are at the National Library of Canada in Ottawa.

"Wilsonbusiness" (Business Periodicals Index)

A good source for locating articles on the business and economics of baseball.

"BiographyInd" (Biography Index)

Produced by the H. W. Wilson Company (as are Readersguideabstacts and Wilsonbusinessabstracts) this is quite similar except that all the subject entries are the names of people.

[B] OTHER SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES

Additionally, the Library subscribes directly to many other indexing services. Among the most useful:

America: History and Life

Indexes articles and reviews from approximately 2,000 journals, many of which are scholarly and academic. Coverage is of the United States and Canada.

Biography & Genealogy Master Index

More than 12 million entries from over 3,000 volumes. Entries are listed as they appear in the biographical reference works. Each variation in name (Ruth, George, Ruth, George H., Ruth, George Herman) cites different sources.

HarpWeek

Harpers Weekly -- Full text for the years 1857 to1877. Indexing allows for retrieval of articles, illustrations, and advertising.

Historical Newspapers Online

One component of this database is The Historical Index to the New York Times for the years 1851-1923. The other three components are for The Times of London, which is of negligible use for baseball research.

JSTOR

Approximately 50 scholarly journals are available full text online.

Periodicals Contents Index (PCI)

Most indexes are constructed by an indexer, assigning subject headings from a thesaurus to describe the intellectual content of an article or book. This index is somewhat different, in that it is a listing of articles found in the tables of contents of over two thousand journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Coverage dates as far back as 1770 and includes non-English language journals. Since a search in this database retrieves words in article titles, it is necessary to search word variations, i.e. baseball and base ball.

Poole’s Plus

This is the first place to search for primary sources on nineteenth century baseball. In addition to Poole’s Index to Periodical Literature (1802-1906), this database includes, among others, New York Times Index (1863-1905), Harper’s Magazine Index (1850-1892), New York Daily Tribune Index (1875-1906), and Stead’s Index to Periodicals (1890-1902).

 


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