by Delia

Our ancestors worked hard all week, on the farm, in the shop or factory. At the end of the day, they went home, ate dinner and went to bed. On the weekends, they attended religious services.

Well, not really. They did have many chores, no matter the station in life, but there was often time for play, and they did play. And The Genealogy Center owns sources on all manner of play in our ancestors’ lives.

Our national pastime, baseball, is represented nationally in a number of sources, including The baseball necrology (973 L512BN) by Bill Lee, The biographical encyclopedia of the Negro baseball leagues (973 R453BI) by James A. Riley, and Today's News (973 AL512TA), the journal of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players' Association. But there are also volumes relating to locations, such as Larry Lester and Sammy Miller's Black baseball in Kansas City (977.802 K13LES) and Robert Ashe's Even the Babe came to play: small-town baseball in the dirty 30s (971.502 SA28AS). 

Basketball is not forgotten in our collection, with Todd Gould's Pioneers of the hardwood: Indiana and the birth of professional basketball (977.2 G737P) and Rankine Smith's The history of basketball in New Brunswick, Canada, 1892-1985 (971.5 Am596H).

A number of sources pertain to sports in academia, such as Ken Kessinger's Sioux Falls Washington High School sports heritage, 1899-1989 (978.302 SI7KE), and Jim O'Brien's Hail to Pitt: a sports history of the University of Pittsburgh (974.802 P687HAI). 

But it's the more unusual accounts of recreational activities that catch my interest. Norman Peterson's Index of about 11,000 1911 Michigan and Wisconsin billiard hall & saloon merchants (977.4 P442I) provides a list of what towns in those states hosted the dreaded pool halls that lured men into drink and play. And From buckskin to baseball; glimpses of Tiogans at work and play (974.702 T49FR) provides just the sort of overview to a community at play that should interest all researchers.And some are rife with history, such as Timothy McCann's Sussex cricket in the eighteenth century (942.2501 SU82P, V.88), and William Perkins Bull's From rattlesnake hunt to hockey; the history of sports in Canada and of the sportsmen of Peel, 1789 to 1934 (971.3 B87FR), which was limited to a thousand copies in 1934.

So when you are investigating the lives of those that have gone before, pay attention to what they did in their free time to add another layer to the stories of their lives.