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Jim Thorpe, Native American Athlete: Topics in Chronicling America

Jim Thorpe was a Native American multi-sport athlete in track and field, baseball, football, and even basketball. This guide provides access to material related to "Jim Thorpe" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Picture of Jim Thrope. June 21, 1922. South Bend News-Times (South Bend, IN), Image 12. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Considered the best all-around athlete of modern times, Native American James "Jim" Thorpe won gold medals in both the pentathlon and the decathlon in the 1912 Stockholm Summer Olympics. Scandal struck in late January 1913 when he was stripped of his titles by the Amateur Athletic Union after admitting he had played professional baseball prior to the Games. Within days of the judgement, however, Thorpe had signed on with the New York Giants and went on to play years of professional baseball, football, and basketball. 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.


July 1912 Thorpe wins gold metal in the pentathlon and the decathlon at the Stockholm Olympics.
January 27, 1913 Thorpe surrenders his trophies amidst scandal.
January 31, 1913 Thorpe is courted by at least five baseball clubs, but decides to sign a contract with the New York Giants, with whom he plays for three seasons.
1913-1922 Despite the loss of his Olympic honors, sports writers continue to support Thorpe, reporting on his time with the Giants, his professional football appearances and his exploits on the world tour baseball circuit.
June 1922 Thorpe is released from a Portland club in the Pacific Coast baseball league, ending his professional baseball career.