The Library of Congress on Capitol Hill comprises three buildings: the Jefferson Building (LJ), Madison Building (LM), and Adams building (LM). Together, these three buildings house approximately 20 public readings rooms, each dedicated to offering collections and services in specific formats, subjects, or languages. A complete list of reading rooms, along with their hours of operation, is available here.
This page describes, at a broad level, the types of baseball-related materials researchers can expect to find in the Library's reading rooms. An overview of relevant subscription databases available through all Library reading rooms is available elsewhere on this guide. Inquiries about materials held in a specific reading room or division should be submitted to the Library through its Ask a Librarian service.
Note: Some of the book mentioned on this page link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.
The Main Reading Room reference collection has the best open-shelf baseball collection available for consultation, but due to space limitations, it is by no means exhaustive. Titles include Anton Grobani's Guide to Baseball Literature; Myron J. Smith’s Baseball: A Comprehensive Bibliography and its two supplements (the updated 2006 edition, titled The Baseball Bibliography, is available to request); Total Baseball; Neft and Cohen's The Baseball Encyclopedia; Philip J. Lowry's Green Cathedrals; The Ballplayers: Baseball Ultimate Biographical Reference The Dickson Baseball Dictionary; and several baseball quotation books. Additional baseball titles available in the reference collection can be browsed through the online catalog.
The American Folklife Center houses the Fay Vincent Oral History Project Collection, a collection of 66 video recordings of 36 oral histories conducted by Fay Vincent and others with retired professional baseball players and other people associated with the game, including interviews with former players in the Negro League. Two books compile interviews from this collection: The Only Game in Town: Baseball Stars of the 1930s and 1940s Talk about the Game They Loved (2006), and a sequel, We Would Have Played for Nothing: Baseball Stars of the 1950s and 1960s Talk about the Game They Loved (2008).
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. See the section of the Sanborn Maps Samplers page on "Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, New York" for more details, as well as the blog posts "Baseball Stadiums and Maps: Chicago" and "Baseball Stadiums and Maps: New York City."
The Hispanic Reading Room's Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS) is a selective annotated bibliography of scholarly works on Latin America. A search of HLAS Web, the current online version of the bibliography, returns more than 40 records on a keyword search for baseball.
HLAS Web currently includes records from the 1970s to present. You can search records from earlier print volumes through HLAS Online, a legacy system which includes records from the 1930s to present. Learn more about these two systems through Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS): A Resource Guide.
The Hispanic Reading Room's collections form part of the Library's larger General Collections.
The papers of Jackie Robinson [finding aid], Branch Rickey [finding aid; digital collection], and Arthur Mann [finding aid] are held in the Manuscript Reading Room. 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.
The Microform Reader Services section of the Microform and Electronic Resources Center houses books and periodicals that have been microfilmed for preservation purposes. Titles include Reach Official American League Baseball Guide, Sporting Life, The Sporting News, Baseball Magazine, and USA Today Baseball Weekly.
The Motion Picture and Television Reading Room houses baseball films and videos in the Library’s collections, including many episodes of the following television series: This Week in Baseball, This Week in Sports, ABC Sunday Afternoon Baseball, and Monday Night Baseball. Additionally, offers selective coverage of regular season league games, playoff games, All-star games, and World Series games. For a sample of the reading room's holdings, consult the finding aid Baseball and Softball on Film and Television in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress, which features newsreels, actualities, shorts, educational films, documentaries, feature films, television, and highlight reels.
An appointment for viewing films is necessary. Contact the reading room directly for details prior to coming to the Library. For more information, see the blog post "Batter Up! Baseball in the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Collections."
One of the important resources for baseball research at the Library of Congress is its extensive collection of American newspapers. The Library's Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room holds 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 less comprehensive, and state libraries are usually a more consistent source for papers from smaller cities.
A guide to full-text newspapers and periodicals available at the Library can be viewed on the reading room's website. Additional guides to the division's holdings are available on its "Newspapers" page, and the division also provides guides to online newspaper resources, including historical newspapers resources, available through other sources.
The reading room makes a large selection of newspapers from 1877-1963 freely available online through the Chronicling America database.
The Performing Arts Reading Room is the access point for the collections in the custody of the Music Division at the Library of Congress. It is shared by the Music Division and the Recorded Sound Research Center of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division.
The Music Division has custody of the Library’s baseball sheet music, some of which is available online. Its online guide, Baseball Music and Songs at the Library of Congress, provides a comprehensive introduction to the baseball music available in the division’s collections. The guide includes an annotated bibliography that inventories the 1,000+ baseball songs that are found in the Music Division, a chronological song index, and a history of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game."
The Recorded Sound Research Center services the Library's audio recordings. In addition to offering a selection of baseball music, it Includes extensive coverage of baseball-related radio programs, as well as other radio programs featuring baseball greats, such as Jackie Robinson. Full or partial radio coverage of most World Series between 1936 and 1968 is available. Many of these recordings can be found in SONIC, the Recorded Sound Research Center’s online catalog. For more information, see the blog post "Batter Up! Baseball in the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Collections." The Recorded Sound Research Center should be contacted prior to coming to the Library, as an appointment for listening is required and restrictions apply.
The Prints and Photographs Reading Room houses more than 16 million images, including photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. Many of these images are now available online. Among the collections digitally available is the division's collection of baseball cards. The division also holds a separate Topps Baseball Card collection, which includes complete sets of every Major League Baseball team from 1973 through 2019 as well as Boston Red Sox cards that date from earlier years. At least one card from each team is available online.
The book Baseball Americana: Treasures from the Library of Congress (New York: Smithsonian Books/Harper, 2009), is a visual history of baseball that draws upon the collections of the Prints and Photographs Division. The division's baseball card collection is the subject of Peter Devereaux's book Game Faces: Early Baseball Cards from the Library of Congress (Smithsonian Books, 2018).