At the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum archives, one of an archivist’s primary jobs is the processing of collections. There aren’t many new collections being donated to the Truman Library anymore, however, archivists are constantly reprocessing old collections in order to make them more accessible and to preserve their contents. I recently had the chance to reprocess a manuscript collection, the Michael M. Davis Papers.
I had nothing to do with arranging the collection, which had already been arranged, and therefore skipped steps that would normally occur during processing, such as researching and surveying the collection or enacting a processing plan. My first task was to stamp every document page with a stamp to signify the Truman Library’s ownership. I believe this is done to protect the collection from theft. I then began reprocessing the collection by focusing on preservation methods. This can be arduous, but also very crucial. I carefully examined every page for major tears, rusty staples, acidic paper, and folded pages. I replaced rusty staples with new ones or paperclips and unfolded pages that were folded. The next step was to photocopy original documents with tears and acidic pages and replace them with the photocopies. The damaged originals are stored in a parallel folder for preservation. I won’t go into every detail for determining which documents need to be photocopied and replaced, but they are numerous and can make your head spin. Every time I became confident that I had mastered the preservation methods, I would either discover a mistake or learn about a new rule I was unaware of. It took over ten hours to finish preserving a single box, which demonstrates how much work is devoted to preservation. My final task was to write the finding aid for the collection, which I look forward to sharing next time.
On October 6, 2006 the great Buck O’Neil passed away. Buck was a pillar in the Kansas City community and was one of Negro League baseball’s best products. Now ten years later, Kansas City law officials , MoDot, and the Negro League Museum decided to honor the man by naming a bridge after him. The bridge is located on highway 169 crossing over the Missouri River. This was known as the “Broadway Bridge” but now its name is the John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil memorial bridge. As I sat at the ceremony I thought about the legacy and impact Mr. O’Neil had on the different people in this community and the baseball community. People from all walks of life came and spoke on his behalf. Politicians, former Major League players, community activist, and writers all spoke candid and respectfully on Mr. O’Neil’s behalf. Many felt remorse that Buck was never inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame. Most of the people were older in age so they remembered Buck. I’ve only read books and heard his name come up in Negro League baseball conversation. After the ceremony I took it upon myself to look up Buck O’Neil and learn more about him.
John Jordan O’Neil was born in Carabelle Florida on November 13, 1911. Growing up in the rural South O’Neil lived through the racial caste Jim Crow system. Because of the racial laws of the South Buck was denied high school education in his town so he went to go live with a uncle in Jacksonville where he could attend school. Buck attended high school and even took a few college courses during his years in Jacksonville. Buck found a love for baseball at a young age. In 1934, he stated playing semi-professional ball where they “barnstormed” against other major league teams in exhibition games. Buck played well and in 1937 he was signed to the Negro League Memphis Red Sox. A year after playing with the Red Sox he was signed to play for the Kansas City Monarchs. From 1937-1955 Buck had a career .288 batting average and five .300 plus batting seasons. He was selected to four East vs West Negro League All-Star games and he played in two Negro World Series winning one in 1942. Buck served in the Navy in World II from 1943-45.
Buck went on to become the manager for the Kansas City Monarchs for eight seasons, winning two league titles. After the Negro Leagues ended Buck became the first African American scout for a major league team. He was a scout for the Chicago Cubs where he sought out lots of great talent. In 1962, O’Neil became the first African American manager in the Major Leagues. He is credited with signing Hall of Fame Lou Brock to his first signing deal. O’Neil is also credited with the career of Ernie Banks. After Buck’s Cubs tenure he became a scout for the Royals and soon retired from the game. Buck is one of the founders of the Negro League Baseball Museum which opened in 1990. His first hand experience in the league gives the museum its true nature of the league. Buck is remembered as a great baseball player and manager but he’s also remembered as a statesman of Negro League baseball and a great man of the people. He deserves this honor and we should continue to have events and memorials in his honor.
It’s been a busy two weeks at the American Royal. The week of September 19th we welcomed over 5,600 students and teachers to our School Tours and Youth Rodeo event and that Saturday we held a standing-room-only ProRodeo. That week a lot of my time was spent on School Tours acting as a lead for registration and welcome.
Last week I spent most of my time debriefing School Tours. Answering questions like what improvements can be made for next year? How did we handle certain situations? What adjustments did we make as the week went on? Now that the biggest education event of the year is over, I can really focus on reworking our Royal Scholar application process.
This week I will be composing the actual application and figuring out what will be the best format. Should it be a fillable PDF document or should we use an online based form through Formstack. Many of our applicants will be familiar with a web-based application, but we are limited in how many questions we can ask and what kind of questions we can ask.
Hello fellow public historians,
My name is Kurly Taylor and I’m a senior here at UMKC studying History and Political Science. I am extremely excited about this course and its opportunities. I am interning at the Negro Leagues Museum in the 18th and Vine District of Kansas City, Missouri. The museum was opened in 1990 to showcase the hidden history of the Negro Leagues and its impact on baseball and American culture. I work with director Dr. Raymond Doswell. With Dr. Doswell I have been digitizing videos of former players who remember their playing days in the league. After the digitizing the videos we will soon make them available online for historians and others so they can have access to these videos. I also am going to work on some research on a new exhibit that Mr. Doswell plans to get going in the future. It has been educational and inspiring to hear these men tell their stories about playing in a league deemed “second” to the Major Leagues but over the course of history its been proven that that’s not accurate.
The Negro Leagues were founded in 1920 by Rube Foster. Foster believed that a league should be established for black Americans to play the game of baseball. Because of the “gentlemen’s agreement” which said that black players were not to be brought through the Major leagues by any owner Foster sought out to create a league for blacks. Foster and other men established the league like the Majors. They created a National and American League and they adopted their own constitution. The Negro Leagues were home to several teams like our own Kansas City Monarchs, Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawford’s, Black New York Yankees, and Indianapolis Clowns just to name a few. These teams were also home to great players who were better or just as good as Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. Players like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. The league spanned from 1920-1955. The league ended because of the integration of baseball which called up the Negro Leagues best and brightest. After Jackie Robinson came up in 1947 several would follow and the Negro Leagues as we know ended.
My job as a intern is to tell the stories of these men and keep their legacy alive. Yes the Negro Leagues isn’t around today but the affects of it still stands in the major leagues through the drag bunt, stealing bases, and other dynamics of the game that we don’t understand as viewers. Also, the league was a catalyst of black pride, black self-sufficiency and black skill. We should never forget this history am I’m proud to help be apart of that task.