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A Register of His Papers in the Library of Congress
Prepared by Michael McElderry with the assistance of Sherralyn McCoy
Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
Contact information: http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/mss/address.html
Finding aid encoded by Library of Congress
Manuscript Division, 2003
Title: Papers of Jackie Robinson , 1934 - 2001 , (bulk 1947 - 1987 )
ID No.: MSS84832
Creator: Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972
Extent: 7,000 items ; 17 containers ; 6.6 linear feet
Repository: Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Abstract: Baseball player, civil rights leader, and corporate executive.
Correspondence, fan mail, financial and legal records, drafts of speeches
and writings, printed matter, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous items
relating to Jackie Robinson as the first African American to play major
league baseball in the twentieth century and to various business and civic
activities following his baseball career, including his service as a
corporate executive and his participation in the civil rights movement,
religious and humanitarian organizations, broadcast and media affairs, and
Selected Search Terms
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the Library's online catalog. They are grouped by name of
person or organization, by subject or location, and by occupation and
listed alphabetically therein.
Robinson, Jackie, 1919-1972
Bowles, Chester, 1901-
Campanella, Roy, 1921- --Correspondence
Chandler, Happy, 1898- --Correspondence
Goldwater, Barry M. (Barry Morris), 1909-
Harriman, W. Averell (William Averell), 1891-1986
Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973
Keating, Kenneth B. (Kenneth Barnard), 1900-1975
Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968
Mann, Arthur (Arthur William), 1901- --Correspondence
O'Malley, Walter F. (Walter Frank), 1903-1979--Correspondence
Powell, Adam Clayton, 1908-1972
Reichler, Joseph L., 1915- --Correspondence
Rickey, Branch, 1881-1965--Correspondence
Rockefeller, Nelson A. (Nelson Aldrich), 1908-1979
Rowan, Carl Thomas
X, Malcolm, 1925-1965
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities
African-American Students Federation
American Committee on Africa
Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)
Chock Full O'Nuts
Freedom National Bank (New York, N.Y.)
Jackie Robinson Foundation
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
New York Giants (Baseball team)
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
African Americans--Economic conditions
Civil rights movements
Africa--Politics and government--20th century
United States--Politics and government--20th century
United States--Social life and customs--20th century
Civil rights leader
The papers of Jackie Robinson, baseball player, civil rights leader, and
corporate executive, were given to the Library of Congress in 2001 by his
wife, Rachel Robinson.
The Robinson Papers are described in Library of Congress Information
Bulletin, vol. 60, no. 11 (November 2001).
A phonograph recording has been transferred to the Library's Motion
Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division where it is identified
as part of these papers.
Copyright in the unpublished writings of Jackie Robinson in these papers
and in other collections in the custody of the Library of Congress is
reserved. Consult a reference librarian in the Manuscript Division for
Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following
information: Container number, Jackie Robinson Papers, Manuscript Division,
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
1919 , Jan.
31 Born, Cairo, Ga.
1939 - 1941 Attended University of California, Los Angeles, Calif.;
first school athlete to letter in four sports
1942 - 1944 Second lieutenant, cavalry, United States Army
1945 Played baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs, Negro
Signed contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers
1946 Married Rachel A. Isum
First African American to play professional baseball in the
twentieth century; joined the Montreal Royals, a minor
league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers
1947 Promoted to the Brooklyn Dodgers breaking the major league
Rookie of the Year award
1947 - 1956 Played major league baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers
1949 National League Most Valuable Player award
1950 Motion picture, The Jackie Robinson Story
1956 Awarded the NAACP Spingarn Medal
1957 Retired from professional baseball after being traded to
the New York Giants
Chairman, NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund
1957 - 1964 Vice president, Chock Full O'Nuts
1962 Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum,
1964 Published Baseball Has Done It edited by Charles Dexter
(Philadelphia: Lippincott. 216 pp.)
1964 - 1972 Founder and chairman of the board, Freedom National Bank of
1965 Published with Alfred Duckett Breakthrough to the Big
League (New York: Harper & Row. 178 pp.)
1966 - 1968 Special assistant for community affairs to New York
Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller
1972 Published with Alfred Duckett I Never Had It Made (New
York: Putnam. 287 pp.)
1972 , Oct.
24 Died, Stamford, Conn.
1984 Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (posthumously)
1997 Major League Baseball retired Robinson's number forty-two
in perpetuity (posthumously)
Scope and Content Note
The papers of Jack Roosevelt Robinson (1919-1972) span the years 1934-2001,
with the bulk of the material dating from his introduction as the first
African American to play major league baseball in the twentieth century in
1947 to the fortieth anniversary in 1987 of this event. The main body of
the Robinson Papers was transferred by his widow, Rachel, in 1985 to the
Jackie Robinson Foundation, a nonprofit organization she founded in 1973.
Additional material from a variety of sources, including photocopies of
selected items from other collections of papers in the Library of Congress,
was added to the collection by the foundation prior to its donation to the
Library. The papers contain correspondence, memoranda, telegrams, subject
files, baseball contracts, fan mail, speeches and writings, financial and
legal records, congressional testimony, military records, and a variety of
printed material relating to Robinson's career as a baseball player and
corporate executive and to his participation in political activities,
religious and civic organizations, the civil rights movement, and media
affairs. The collection also contains numerous items celebrating Robinson's
legacy represented in a series of posthumous commemorations and events. The
papers are organized in the following series: Baseball File, Civil Rights,
Political File, Business and Corporate File, Religious and Civic
Activities, Subject File, Speeches and Writings, and Miscellany.
When Jackie Robinson began his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, he
broke the unwritten color line that had existed in major league baseball
since the late nineteenth century, and a major portion of the collection is
devoted to his pioneering efforts in this regard. The Baseball File
contains correspondence with friends and associates, baseball officials,
and sportswriters affiliated with the sport, including Buzzie Bavasi, Roy
Campanella, Happy Chandler, Charles Dressen, Arthur Mann, Ralph Norton,
Walter F. O'Malley, Branch Rickey, and Joseph L. Reichler. The series
includes originals and photocopies of Robinson's baseball contracts with
the Dodgers, as well as his unsigned contract with the New York Giants
following his trade in 1956. Fan mail from home and abroad offered Robinson
support and encouragement in his efforts both on and off the field, while
often providing a glimpse into the writer's own struggle with racial
intolerance. Although the subject of discrimination in baseball is a
constant theme throughout the entire collection, the Baseball File
especially contains specific files on the topic.
After the 1956 season, the Dodgers traded Robinson to their crosstown
rivals, the New York Giants. Robinson declined to accept the trade and
announced his retirement from baseball in 1957. The Baseball File contains
material relating to Robinson's trade and subsequent retirement, including
the public's response to both. In 1962, Robinson became the first African-
American player to win election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and
Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The Baseball File contains congratulatory
letters and tributes in celebration of the event, including material
documenting a testimonial dinner given in his honor by the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference. A telegram from Martin Luther King, Jr.,
who had a central role in sponsoring the dinner, regretting his absence due
to "an important turn of events in Albany, Georgia," symbolizes the link
between athletics and civil rights issues which defined Robinson for the
remainder of his life.
Robinson joined King in the civil rights action known as the Albany
Movement, and a file on the Mount Olive Baptist Church, Sasser, Georgia, in
the Civil Rights series reveals the aftermath of that protest. The series
further highlights Robinson's commitment on behalf of civil rights in his
work with the NAACP, for which he was awarded the association's Spingarn
Medal, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference, and the Student Emergency Fund. Material concerning tensions
that arose between Robinson and other members of the civil rights
community, including his criticism of Roy Wilkins's leadership of the NAACP
and his open conflict with Malcolm X, is also contained in this series.
In addition to his support of racial equality at home, Robinson also
developed an interest in the African independence movement. As a trustee of
the African-American Students Federation, Robinson sponsored African
students at American colleges and universities, and as a member of the
American Committee on Africa, he supported a boycott of the 1968 Olympic
Games in protest against the readmittance of the Union of South Africa,
which had been barred from the 1964 games. The Civil Rights series contains
material concerning Robinson's contributions in support of these and other
African-related issues and organizations.
Robinson signaled the start of his involvement in political affairs by
endorsing Richard M. Nixon in the 1960 presidential campaign. Although he
identified with the Republican party, Robinson declared that he voted not
for the party but for the candidate, and his eventual support of the
Democratic administration of John F. Kennedy and for Democratic party
candidates in the 1964 and 1968 presidential elections illustrated this
point. The Political File documents Robinson's various political alliances,
including his affiliations with the progressive wing of the Republican
party, primarily as a close adviser of New York governor Nelson A.
Rockfeller, for whom he served as special assistant for community affairs.
Though not fully engaged as a political activist until the 1960s, Robinson
was no stranger to political controversy as evidenced by his 1949
appearance before the United States House Un-American Activities Committee,
where he refuted Paul Robeson's alleged statement that American blacks
would not fight in a war against the Soviet Union. Robinson's testimony in
the Political File recalls his support of American values and traditions
and explores the aftermath of this witness to his faith in America as well.
A temporary alliance in 1963 between Harlem congressman Adam Clayton Powell
and Malcolm X was the focal point for further controversy involving
Robinson. Public reaction to an open letter written by Robinson critical of
Powell and published in the Amsterdam News is contained in the Political
File. Other public officials represented in the Political File, in addition
to those noted above, include Chester Bowles, Barry Goldwater, W. Averell
Harriman, Hubert H. Humphrey, Lyndon B. Johnson, Kenneth B. Keating, and
Robert F. Kennedy.
Following his retirement from baseball in 1957, Robinson accepted a
position as vice president for personnel with Chock Full O'Nuts, a coffee
manufacturer and lunch counter chain. As an advocate of minority
enterprise, Robinson also helped establish several minority-owned
businesses, including the Freedom National Bank of New York, the Gibraltar
Life Insurance Company, and the Hamilton Life Insurance Company. The
Business and Corporate File contains material relating to these business
ventures as well as to other aspects of Robinson's career as a businessman
and entrepreneur and to his promotion of economic development in the
African-American community at large.
The Religious and Civic Activities series highlights Robinson's work with
church and interfaith organizations, including the National Conference of
Christians and Jews, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the
United States of America, and the United Church Men of the United Church of
Christ. Reflecting Robinson's commitment to community-based affairs and
active sense of social responsibility, the series also documents his many
civic activities, in particular his participation in youth guidance and
counseling programs. Material relating to Robinson's concern for minority
housing and urban renewal, including a small file on the Jackie Robinson
Construction Company, is also located in this series.
The Subject File documents Robinson's broadcasting and media activities as
well as the many tributes in his honor occasioned by his death in 1972. In
addition to his role as a sportscaster, Robinson's work on radio and
television enabled him to publicize his personal views and beliefs through
political and social commentary. The Subject File contains contracts,
program proposals, and transcripts relating to Robinson's media
appearances, while his legacy is celebrated through numerous
commemorations, posthumous tributes, and awards. The Subject File also
contains the records of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a nonprofit
organization founded to promote leadership development and scholarship
among minority youth.
Robinson was a popular public speaker, and the Speeches and Writings series
displays the breadth of his audiences and interests. In addition to
speeches, the series also contains drafts, contracts, notes, and outlines
of the articles and books Robinson wrote with collaborators, including
Baseball Has Done It, Breakthrough to the Big League, and I Never Had It
Made. Extensive files relating to Carl Thomas Rowan's biography, Wait Till
Next Year, are also located here, as is correspondence with associates and
coauthors, most notably, Alfred Duckett, Robinson's long-time ghostwriter.
The series includes items relating to the 1950 motion picture The Jackie
Robinson Story, in which Robinson starred, and the script of the 1980
Broadway musical The First.
Robinson served as a commissioned second lieutenant in the United States
Army from 1942 to1944. The Miscellany series contains medical and personnel
records from Robinson's military service, including court-martial charges
of insubordination resulting from his refusal to obey an order to move to
the back of a segregated military bus in Texas. A military jury acquitted
Robinson, and shortly thereafter, he received an honorable discharge. A
small group of family papers is also included in the Miscellany series, as
are the many condolences received following his death.
The National Baseball Library and Archive, Cooperstown, New York, also
contains material documenting Robinson's baseball career, as do the Arthur
Mann and Branch Rickey collections, both located in the Manuscript Division
of the Library of Congress. The division's holdings further include
material relating to Robinson's civil rights activities in the records of
the NAACP and the National Urban League and the papers of Joseph L. Rauh
and A. Philip Randolph.
Organization of the Papers
The collection is arranged in eight series:
* Baseball File, 1945-2000, n.d.
* Civil Rights, 1947-1990, n.d.
* Political File, 1949-1986, n.d.
* Business and Corporate File, 1952-1981, n.d.
* Religious and Civic Activities, 1951-2001, n.d.
* Subject File, 1953-1999, n.d.
* Speeches and Writings, 1934-1999, n.d.
* Miscellany, 1942-1998, n.d.
November 4, 2003