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Jack Johnson vs. James Jeffries: Topics in Chronicling America

On July 4, 1910, Jack Johnson becomes the first African American Heavyweight Champion of the World. This guide provides access to materials related to "Jack Johnson vs. James Jeffries” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Downfall of pugilism's idol: Jeffries knocked out." July 6, 1910. The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA), Image 9. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Jack Johnson wins the "Battle of the Century" against James Jeffries on July 4, 1910 in Reno, Nevada. The fight between Johnson and Jeffries sparked nation-wide response, including both celebrations and riots. Johnson was the first African American Heavyweight Champion of the World, and held the title until 1915. 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 4, 1910 The "Battle of the Century," takes place in a stadium built specifically for the fight in Reno, Nevada where Jack Johnson (Galveston Giant) defeats Jeffries (The Boilermaker) to become the first African American Heavyweight Champion of the World.
July 5, 1910 Johnson’s victory after the fifteen round bout ignites race riots and celebrations across the nation.
1908 - 1915 Johnson's reign as the Heavyweight Champion of the World.