Negro Leagues History Digitized in Museum’s Latest Additions to PASTIME

The moment Jackie Robinson stepped onto the Ebbets Field grass on April 15, 1947, the history of American civil rights was forever altered.

But the story of that baseball moment had its roots in the lives of thousands of pioneers before Robinson – and the work continued after he was established as a big league star.


Those stories are just part of the Negro Leagues and post-Negro Leagues history that has been made available online as part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s latest addition to the Hall of Fame Digital Archive Project.

Digitized photos of the Negro Leagues, the papers of pioneering African-American writer Wendell Smith and a Jackie Robinson scrapbook – all from the Museum’s unparalleled collection – debuted online today. Additional digitized material – including photos, audio, video and text – from the Museum collection will be published every other Wednesday as the Museum adds to the PASTIME (Public Archive System To Interact with the Museum Electronically) online collection, which is available at

Arnold Hano grew up a Giants fan, but he still calls Jackie Robinson "one of the most influential athletes in the game." This image, taken from a Jackie Robinson Scrapbook, is currently available in the Hall of Fame Digital Archive. The Archive recently released the Scrapbooks, the papers of Wendell Smith and digitized photos of the Negro Leagues. (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

The latest digitized images range from Hall of Famers and Negro Leagues legends like Cool Papa Bell and Oscar Charleston to portraits taken by groundbreaking Cuban photographer Osvaldo Salas during the 1950s as baseball’s integration movement took hold. The searchable database includes many photos from the Museum’s archive never before published by the Hall of Fame. Smith’s papers, meanwhile, document the call for Major League Baseball to allow African-American players and the story of Robinson’s path to the big leagues.

The next group of materials scheduled to be available on PASTIME beginning Oct. 5 will include materials related to the first five Hall of Famers elected in 1936: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and Ruth. Future releases will include oral histories, additional scrapbooks and Negro League photos. The Oct. 19 digitized items will feature images and data from the Museum’s Postseason collection.

As these items are added to PASTIME, fans will be able to explore the Museum collection as they plan their visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, or continue their exploration of baseball history after they tour the Museum.

Photographer Osvaldo Salas captured this shot of Elston Howard, posed with his bat at Yankee Stadium in 1955. This image, and more, are now available in the Hall of Fame Digital Archive. (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

With more than three million Library items, a quarter of a million unique images and 40,000 three-dimensional artifacts representing baseball’s illustrious history, the Museum preserves an immense physical collection that brings baseball history to life. Through the Hall of Fame Digital Archive Project, the Museum, over the next several years, will continue to digitize its collections, making PASTIME the online resource for baseball history.

The goal of the Project is to provide online access to the precious artifacts and documents that are preserved in Cooperstown for fans and researchers around the globe, while ensuring that they are digitally archived for future generations of fans. PASTIME will become the online portal for fans and students of the game to relive baseball’s greatest moments through the Museum’s collection.

The project is dependent upon the continued generous donations of passionate baseball fans, along with support provided by Market NY through I LOVE NY, New York State’s Division of Tourism, as a part of the State’s Regional Economic Development Council awards.

To support the Hall of Fame Digital Archive Project, please visit

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