History Professor at UMass Amherst Receives $5,000 To Create Jackie Robinson Web Site

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts history professor Ron Story has received a $5,000 grant from the Five College Multimedia Access Project to develop a Web site based on materials from the 1996-97 Jackie Robinson Initiative.

The Jackie Robinson Initiative was a year-long interdisciplinary program of courses, lectures, and public events commemorating the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. It was sponsored by the University’s departments of history, political science, sport studies, and Afro-American studies. The Five College Multimedia Access Project funds various media, digital, and web projects for possible class and research use.

The Jackie Robinson Web site will include video clips from lectures which took place during the Jackie Robinson Initiative and interviews with Robinson’s family, contemporaries, and successors. Also included will be still photographs, facsimiles of notable memorabilia, and original documents such as Robinson’s early contracts. Among the highlights are: copies of Robinson’s first professional baseball contract (with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League); correspondence between Robinson and Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon; photos of Robinson with Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and other civil rights leaders; and selections from exclusive interviews with Rachel and Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s teammate Don Newcombe, and Larry Doby, the first black American Leaguer who was recently elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Story will collaborate with Rachel C. Lewellen, digital initiatives and planning librarian at the W.E.B. Du Bois Library at the University, and professor Jerome Mileur of the UMass political science department. He says the site will be a research tool both for high school and for college students interested in the subjects of history, sport management, sociology, and Afro-American studies.

Story says by the end of 1998 he, Lewellen, and Mileur hope to test the site in University classes and perhaps area high school classes as well.

"The Robinson Web Site Project gives us a chance to let faculty and students exploit our rich source materials on Jackie Robinson and his times for their own use," says Story. "It should enliven many a class on race relations, modern sports, and political and business history. It will also give people a taste of the vast primary materials available for study in the Robinson archive in the Du Bois Library."