Brooklyn Sports General

While many fan sites are dedicated to sports in the United States, there are few websites that provide direct access to primary source materials related to the history of sports in this country. The Brooklyn Historical Society has a unique collection of historic photographs, memorabilia and oral histories related to sports in Brooklyn. The aim of this project is to create a site that incorporates these archival materials. These include popular materials related to the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson and Ebbets Field in addition to more obscure, local history items related to the history of basketball, track and netball in Brooklyn. Of particular interest is Mary Strobel’s manuscript collection, which documents her experience as the first African American women to join a US track team. Strobel went on to found the Trailblazers, a track team for African American women based in Queens, New York.

The Brooklyn Historical Society’s photo collection consists of approximately 35,000 images, which are available for use in the library. To date, only 1000 of these images have been digitized.1 This project would serve to provide the planning and financial support necessary to digitize some photographs of high interest and great import to Brooklyn sports history in addition to memorabilia including medals, banners and sports equipment. The site would also include six oral histories completed by BHS on the history of sports in Brooklyn. These oral histories include interviews with Mary Strobel and Brooklyn Dodgers player George “Shotgun” Shuba.

The Brooklyn Sports site would serve primarily as a resource for teachers and students who work with the Brooklyn Sports Curriculum Kit that the Brooklyn Historical Society will provide for schools beginning in the May 2009. This curriculum kit provides facsimiles of some primary source material. The site would provide these in their original form and expand to include archival materials related to, but not included in the curriculum kit. This digitization project will also help to promote the Brooklyn Historical Society with the hopes of increasing traffic to the museum and archives, which will increase funds available for future projects. Finally, the site will provide broader access to archival materials that students and scholars alike can utilize to study issues of women’s rights, civil rights, the professionalization of sports, and broader Brooklyn history.

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