March 25, 2017

Primary Source Learning: Women in Baseball

Princeton University woman baseball player

Use this primary source set of women in baseball to have students examine cultural attitudes of American women from the late 1800s through the 1920s. You might start with having students complete a gallery walk with the images. After, you might have them analyze the song lyrics and read various newspaper articles (be sure to have them read about the newspaper as well; to do so, click on the newspaper name). Next, you might challenge students to put the images in chronological order. Then you could have them check their order by reviewing the image bibliographic records. Finally, you might have students create products (poem, song, slideshow, etc.) that make personal connections and demonstrate their learning.


 Star bloomer girls base ball club
Star bloomer girls base ball club
Is he going or coming?
Is he going or coming?
Boston national bloomer girl's base ball club
Boston national bloomer girl’s base ball club
Virginia Smoot of Columbia Jr. High School tagged out at third by Mabel Harvey of McFarland School during the ball game
Ball game which was part of the field day of the junior high schools
Princeton University woman baseball player
Playing baseball at Madison, New JerseyPlaying baseball at Madison, New Jersey
"Bean him!"
“Bean him!”*
Female baseball player
Female baseball player
Socially prominent women and their daughters playing baseball
Socially prominent women and their daughters playing baseball

Sheet music

Who would doubt that I’m a man?

Newspaper articles

Bloomer Girls: All-girls novelty act sweeps country playing baseball – Topics in Chronicling America

Billiards for Women” The Evening Times (Washington, D.C.), 10 March 1897

Women Play Baseball” Los Angeles Herald [microform] (Los Angeles [Calif.]), 01 Aug. 1909

College Women Will Play Baseball” The San Francisco Call (San Francisco [Calif.]), 23 March 1910

Sage College (Ithaca, NY) Athletic Council decree El Paso Herald (El Paso, Tex.), 19 Dec. 1912

Girls Play Real Baseball” University Missourian (Columbia, Mo.), 05 May 1915

University Women’s Baseball Teams Are Rounding into Shape” University Missourian (Columbia, Mo.), 28 March 1916

Lady Sealpax: New Athletic Underwear for Women” advertisement The Evening Missourian (Columbia, Mo.), 04 April 1918

Women’s Baseball Series Begins Saturday” The Evening Missourian (Columbia, Mo.), 03 Oct. 1919

Strength or Grace?” The Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.), 13 May 1922

Fathers of Vassar Seniors Capture Baseball Game from Their Daughters” Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Va.), 13 June 1922

*“Bean Him!” larger image

Additional sources

The Woman Who (Maybe) Struck out Babe Ruth and Lou GehrigSmithsonian Magazine July 2013

Women’s Baseball by John M. Kovach Google Books preview

Related resources

Primary Source Learning: Baseball

Primary Source Spotlight: Baseball

Featured Image: Concerning the American Girl Puck magazine

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