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Basketball: Topics in Chronicling America

Recognized nationally in 1893, basketball expanded more rapidly than any other American sport. This guide provides access to materials related to “Basketball” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Alberta Hoffman: Illustrating Position While Making a Try at Goal. Misses Hoffman and Hensel: Of High's Basket-Ball Team, Illustrating Methods of Play While Preparing for a Game. Moss Hensel: Throwing the Ball from the Side Lines." September 20, 1903. The St. Louis Republic (St. Louis, MO), Image 24. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Despite its humble beginnings in a YMCA gymnasium, Basket Ball expands more rapidly than any American sport in history. Popularity grew especially quickly with women and co-ed organizations as basketball became known as a no-contact sport. Over the span of twenty years, peach baskets are swapped with nets and backboards, the art of the dribble is near-perfected, and Dr. James Naismith becomes a household name as basketball ultimately evolves into a men's intercollegiate sport. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


1893 Only one year after its first official contest, “Basket Ball” becomes recognized nationwide as the best indoor game created in decades.
1894 Basketball becomes especially popular with women and co-ed organizations as a fun, non-contact sport.
1898 James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, coaches Kansas University in its inaugural intercollegiate seasons. He makes history as the only KU coach to produce a losing career record.
1900- 1910 As the game develops it goes through a rigorous process of adopting new rules and disbanding others. Naismith publishes columns explaining the different strategies and nuances of his game.
1910 Basketball shifts from a women’s game to a serious intercollegiate men’s contest, challenging football and baseball’s undisputed positions as America’s most beloved sports.