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All-American Girls Baseball League Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MSSP 0014
A collection of manuscript material, photographs, and printed matter relating to the All-American Girls Baseball League (AAGBBL), a women's professional league active in the American Midwest from 1943 to 1954. The AAGBBL Collection includes materials from several sources. The greater part of the collection consists of records preserved by Dr. Harold T. Dailey (1894-1971), a South Bend, Indiana, oral surgeon who served on the South Bend Blue Sox board of directors from 1945 to 1952, and was involved with the club through 1954. From late 1947 to 1950 he also served as team president. Much of the Dailey material is retained in a set of nine loose-leaf notebooks, totaling over 1100 leaves. Volumes 1 through 8 comprise a kind of documentary history of the league, chronologically organized. The league's earliest seasons, from 1943 to 1946, and its final seasons, 1953 and 1954, are covered somewhat cursorily compared to the years of Dailey's closest involvement with the South Bend team; records for 1950 and 1951, for example, occupy two volumes apiece. The final notebook, volume 9, consists mostly of minutes of AAGBBL Board of Directors meetings, which Dailey often attended. The eight chronological notebooks contain many different kinds of records. There is much related to the game on the field, including rosters, player and team statistics, boxscores and linescores, game accounts, and so on. Sometimes this information is clipped from printed sources like newspapers and yearbooks and fixed into the notebooks. In other cases it is transcribed in typescript onto the heavy manila stock that Dailey generally employed (perhaps to provide a more durable platform for pasted materials). Other kinds of team and league records are almost always transcribed, from original texts that may survive in no other form. These include, but are not limited to: rules and regulations; bulletins and press releases; committee minutes and reports; correspondence (usually, but not always, involving Dailey); and finally and perhaps most significantly, business and financial records of many kinds. A good percentage of these records relate specifically to the South Bend club, though many pertain to other clubs and to the league as a whole. The purpose of the notebooks' compilation is not immediately apparent, though an undated letter transcribed in volume 1 (20r) indicates that Dailey once entertained the idea of writing a league history. Also uncertain is the precise manner of the records' transcription (and for that matter, the transcriptions' accuracy and completeness). Included among the records, sometimes in manuscript but more often in typescript, are bits of commentary by Dailey, usually rather acerbic. (One also encounters frequent pencilled annotations in the pages' margins; these were made by Merrie Fidler in the course of researching the first serious study of the league, an MA thesis completed at the University of Massachusetts in 1976). Notable among the materials taped or glued into the notebooks are 259 different black and white photographic prints relating to the AAGBBL and its players, of various sizes. The majority are individual portraits, but there are also group and team portraits, a few game action shots, and assorted other images. The photos are most prevalent in volume 2, for 1947-49. An inventory of the photographs in the Dailey notebooks is included in the collection's cover file. Associated with the notebooks is a collection of loose original manuscript material of Dailey's, all of it relating to the AAGBBL. Much of this is incoming correspondence from ca. 1948-49.

A second set of papers within the collection, much smaller than Dailey's, came from D. C. "Chet" Grant (1892-1985), who managed the AAGBBL's South Bend Blue Sox (1946-47) and Kenosha Comets (1948). Most of this material relates to Grant's time in South Bend.

Among the other materials in the collection are two sets of completed player questionnaires. The first, dating from ca. 1944-45, is a group of original AAGBBL forms filled out by 76 different players, providing personal information for league publicity purposes. The second, dating from 1997, is a group of 185 questionnaires completed by former AAGBBL players at the request of the National Baseball Library in Cooperstown, New York (which graciously provided photocopies of the originals). Also in the collection are various kinds of league-related printed matter, including scorecards, team yearbooks, league rulebooks, and clipped newspaper and magazine articles. Finally, there are upwards of 75 loose photographic prints (in addition to the 259 photographs tipped in to the Dailey notebooks).

Dates

  • 1943-2000
  • Majority of material found in 1943-1954

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Extent

7.5 Cubic Feet

Overview

A substantial collection of manuscript material, photographs, and printed matter relating to the All-American Girls Baseball League, a women's professional league active in the American Midwest from 1943 to 1954. Included is a set of nine loose-leaf notebooks compiled by South Bend Blue Sox executive Harold T. Dailey, comprising a kind of documentary history of the league.

Biographical / Historical

The AAGBBL (All-American Girls Baseball League) was a women's professional baseball league active in the American Midwest from 1943 to 1954. It was founded by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley, who was motivated, above all else, by the possibility that changing wartime manpower policies would shut down major league baseball in 1943. Making the idea for a women's league feasible was the existence of a pool of talent born of the rapid growth of amateur and semipro women's softball in the decades before the war. The AAGBBL was initially known as the All-American Girls Softball League, though rule and equipment changes brought its game increasingly closer to men's baseball as the years progressed. A landmark in this regard was the introduction of full overhand pitching in 1948. Over the course of its twelve-year history the league included franchises in 14 different Midwest cities; among the most enduring were those in Rockford, Illinois (1943-54); South Bend, Indiana (1943-54); Kenosha, Wisconsin (1943-51); Racine, Wisconsin (1943-50); Fort Wayne, Indiana (1945-54); Grand Rapids, Michigan (1945-54); and Peoria, Illinois (1946-51). Over the years the AAGBBL employed several different management structures. Under Wrigley (1943-44), it was administered by a Board of Trustees on a non-profit basis; local input on league affairs was minimal, and player procurement was centralized. Subsequent league owner Arthur E. Meyerhoff (1945-50), a Wrigley advertising executive, introduced a profit-based Management Corporation, which included a Board of Directors made up of franchise presidents. Teams now had significant influence on league affairs, but were also responsible for the financial burdens of local operations. At the end of the 1950 season the league further decentralized, as team administrators bought out Meyerhoff and began operating on an independent basis, largely with an eye to economizing. What had once seemed a promising venture proved increasingly unviable, however, and the AAGBBL folded after the 1954 season. The league and its players enjoyed a remarkable new popularity in the late 20th century, especially after the release of Penny Marshall's film A League of Their Own in 1992.

Arrangement

The AAGBBL Collection is arranged into the following series: 1) Harold T. Dailey Notebooks; 2) Harold T. Dailey Papers; 3) Chet Grant Papers; 4) Player Questionnaires; 5) Miscellaneous AAGBBL Records; 6) Printed Matter; 7) Photographs.
Title
All-American Girls Baseball League Collection MSSP 0014
Status
completed
Author
Hannah Sabal
Date
05/11/2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

Contact:
102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556
574-631-0290