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The Negro Leagues
Wittenberg University

Negro Leagues Resources

The history of the Negro Leagues and its relationship with American history is a fascinating study. How the history of the Negro Leagues reflects what was happening, or not happening, in American society and culture tells us a great deal about who we were, and are, as a country. But, researching the Negro Leagues may seem a bit daunting at times because much of the history lies in the shadows or has been lost. Only in the last twenty-five years has much research been conducted on this period of time and the women and men who participated in it. Unfortunately, many of the Negro League ballplayers and executives have passed on, but not before some of their stories were captured by oral historians and members of the Society for American Baseball Research.

Thomas Library has a small, but growing, collection of resources on the Negro Leagues. Through OhioLINK the resources of over eighty OhioLINK member libraries are available to you for your research needs. Additionally, nearby libraries such as Ohio State University and Wright State University may have other resources for you to use. Also through OhioLINK you may electronically access thousands of journals which Wittenberg does not subscribe to in print. The richness of these resources will provide you with the information you need for your study of the Negro Leagues.

Primary sources versus secondary sources

What is the difference between a primary source and a secondary source? A primary source is typically one written or recorded by a participant in the event, while a secondary source is compiled by an author from primary or secondary sources. An example of a primary source in the history of the Negro Leagues would be an oral history by a former player or manager. This is a document recounted by a former player or manager about his playing career and life. A secondary source would be a book written by a historian about the Negro Leagues.

Manuscripts and letters are primary sources as they were written by the person observing the event. Books may be comprised of primary sources such as copies of letters or documents relating to an event. Reports of events made by the participants would be primary sources, even though they may be printed in books. Newspaper and magazine articles may be considered primary sources, if they are eye-witness accounts of an event. If not, then you may need to consider them a secondary source. 

Finding Books

EZRA - Wittenberg's library catalog

OhioLINK - Ohio academic libraries catalog

WorldCat - used for materials not found in the above catalogs

Subject Headings: Library of Congress Subject Headings

  • controlled language to allow for more uniform retrieval of information
  • some examples of LC Subject Headings for this subject
    • African American Baseball Players
    • Gibson, Josh, 1911-1947
    • Negro Leagues
    • Negro Leagues--History
    • Negro Leagues--United States--History
Selected Reference Books

The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball
REF GV 862.3 .L54 1997

The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Athletes
REF GV 697.A1 M355 2001

The Encyclopedia of North American Sports History
REF GV 567 .H518 2002

The ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia (4th edition)
REF GV 867 .A15 2007

International Encyclopedia of Women and Sports
REF GV 709 .I58 2000

The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives
REF GV 697 .A1 S42 2002

Other Print Resources

African American Newspapers and Periodicals
Main PN 4882.5 A37 1998

The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Leagues
Main GV 865.A1 R473 2002

Black Baseball and Chicago
Main GV 863.I32 C453 2006

A Complete History of the Negro Leagues
Main GV 875.N35 R53 2002

Negro League Baseball
Main GV 875.N35 L36 2004

The Negro Leagues
Main GV 875 .N35 H43 2003

The Negro Leagues Book
Main GV 863.A1 D53 1994

The Negro Leagues Chronology
Main GV 875.N35 H38 2006

The Negro Leagues Revisited
Main GV 865.A1 K435 2000

Only the Ball was White
Main GV 863.A1 P47 1999

Theses & Dissertations

In the course of your research you may encounter items described as "thesis" or "dissertation". These are the culmination of a masters or doctoral student's research. A thesis is written by a student completing a master's degree in a subject, while a dissertation is written by a student completing their doctoral studies. Many times a doctoral dissertation will ultimately be published (with certain revisions) as a book. A thesis or a dissertation is subject to a review of scholars in the field before it is accepted by the university providing the degree. These documents may prove to be good sources of information, as they often look at very specific issues or problems. Libraries (including Thomas Library) do not typically purchase copies of theses or dissertations, but they are may available through OhioLINK or Inter-Library Loan.

Proquest, a company in Ann Arbor, Michigan, provides microfilming and distribution of theses and dissertations. Their database, Digital Dissertations, may be searched to determine if a dissertation exists and if it is available. Some recent theses and dissertations are available online through this database.

Electronic Books

The library has access to a collection of electronic books which you may encounter as part of your research. They are identified with the words [Computer File] in the title.


Thomas Library has a large collection of microforms, including microfilm and microfiche. Occasionally an article or book you need may be in a microform format. The Library has microfilm and microfiche reader/printers that you can use to print the article or relevant pages of a book. The cost is $.15 per page.

Finding journal articles

Online Indexes

America: History and Life - indexes scholarly journals dealing with American history published from 1964 to today. The period of time covered dates from pre-history to the present.

American Periodical Series Online 1740-1900 - indexes numerous periodicals from the 18th and 19th centuries and provides full-text of the articles.

The Baseball Index - a project of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Bibliography Committee, TBI indexes a number of baseball related magazines and publications. It does not contain full-text of the articles.

JSTOR - JSTOR is an electronic full-text archive of journals in various disciplines, including history.

New York Times - Historical - indexes the New York Times from 1851-present with full-text of the articles. Provides coverage of Negro Leagues and Jackie Robinson's integration of major league baseball.

SportDiscus - indexes books, articles, web sites and other resources dealing with all aspects of sports. Coverage is from 1975 to the present.

Electronic Resources

JSTOR - JSTOR is an electronic full-text archive of journals in various disciplines, including history.

Library of Congress American Memory - this web site contains a variety of primary source materials regarding African American history and sports history. It includes a section on Jackie Robinson and the integration of the major leagues.

Ohiolink Electronic Journal Collection - the EJC is provided by Ohiolink and is an electronic full-text archive of journals in various disciplines, including history.

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

When conducting research it is critical to know the difference between scholarly and popular articles. Depending on the class and the research topic faculty may not accept popular articles as a basis for your research. Be sure to talk with your professor if you have any questions about the articles you wish to use. The Library has a web page which can provide assistance to you in making the distinction between scholarly and popular articles.

Web Sites

Black Baseball's Negro Baseball Leagues - website devoted to the Negro Leagues and players.

Negro League Baseball Players Association - a commercial site with information about leagues, players, stadiums and other history related to the Negro Leagues.

Negro Leagues Baseball History - a web site that is part of a larger site called This is the place to go for statistical information on Negro Leagues players and teams. As the CHOICE review of the site says: "Though incomplete, the site is about as good as it gets..."

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum - official site of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Society for American Baseball Research - SABR is an international organization devoted to research in baseball. The SABR Negro Leagues Committee has been instrumental in conducting much of the research relating to the history of the Negro leagues and the players.

The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport - Founded by Richard Lapchick, TIDES is a part of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program in the University of Central Florida's College of Business Administration. Lapchick has been a long-time researcher on the issues of diversity and gender equity in college and professional sports. Among the publications TIDES publishes are: Racial and Gender Report Card and studies dealing with NCAA graduation rates. While these are not directly related to the Negro Leagues, they may be of use to some students in this class.

Inter-Library Loan (ILL)

As a student at Wittenberg you have access to a large number of resources, but sometimes the article you want is not available here or via full-text online or the book or video you want is not available here or in Ohiolink. When that happens you need to use our inter-library loan service. By using ILL you can request a copy of an article or a book or video from another library. Most journal articles may not be requested through Ohiolink so you will need to request them on the Thomas Library periodicals ILL form. Check with a Reference Librarian to see if the article you need is available through Ohiolink. Books and videos should be requested on the Thomas Library book ILL form. Items will be delivered at the Circulation desk where you can pick them up and use them. Remember, it can take a few weeks for ILL to be delivered so plan ahead.

Audio-Visual Resources

You may also find audio-visual resources which may be of use to you. These may be videotapes, DVDs, or audio recordings. Videotapes and DVDS are housed at the Library Circulation Desk, while audio recordings are located near the vending machine area. These resources may have special rules about their usage.

Personal Research Consultation (PeRC)

These are one hour appointments with a librarian to discuss your topic and how to proceed with your research. You may schedule them by e-mail, phone or in-person at the reference desk. Doug Lehman is the liaison librarian for the History Department.

Return to Thomas Library Web Page

Web page by Doug Lehman, Wittenberg University
phone: 327-7016

November 7, 2017

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