Researching at the Library of Congress, Part I

Today our research historian Tim Brulia brings us his research from his recent trip to the Library of Congress in Washington.

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Over the last several years, I have done some research at the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington, D.C. The LOC consists of several buildings; The Thomas Jefferson Building, the James Madison Building and the John Adams Building. The building I hit, the Madison Building, houses an extremely extensive newspaper microfilm collection.

This past Saturday (July 9th), I made my journey from my abode in Enola, PA to the LOC. I drive from Enola to the Shady Grove Metro Station parking lot, where I board the Metro to the Capitol South stop. My mission: to extensively review the newspapers from 1941-1944 to make sure I have gathered as much information as possible on all of the teams, keying in on newspaper photographs from the microfilmed images. The photos will also help to assist our graphic engineer Bill Schaefer with his massive project of sizing up the game by game uniform match-up. I am armed with just a few neccessities for the trip; a mechanical pencil, my trusty composition book and my LOC reading ID card. No laptop, tablet or flash drives, just my 20th century equipment.

The newspaper reading room is large, but not overwhelming. The staff are courteous, friendly and helpful. The ritual consists of signing in and finding a microfilm reader. Once I anchor myself in position, I then go to work. The LOC has the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Washington Post available for free access. The other newspapers I must request from the LOC staff. For the 1941-44 era, these would include the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Detroit Free Press, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Milwaukee Journal (for Green Bay). Fortunately, I have on-line access to the NY Times and Milwaukee Journal and I have already used the Pennsylvania State Library for the Philly and Pittsbugh newspapers. When the staff retrieves my requested order, they bring the reels right to my work station. Excellent service!

As I go through the microfilm, I have already laid out a bit of a game plan. In my composition book, I have already logged in each season, team by team, the home schedules for each team. If I come across a photograph for the game I need, I note what the colors are for both teams that include helmet color, jersey color, pants color and sock colors. Anything unusual I see, I then try to do a quick glance in the game's write-up if any mention is made of the odd finding. If so, I jot it down. If not, I will make a note of the oddity I spotted myself. The hours for Saturdays at the LOC are from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. I work straight through the day without a lunch break, only pausing for nature's call or a quick sip from the water fountain.

Annnnnd, here's what I found that Bill needed to fix to bring a little more acccuracy to the database:

Dodgers: Remove the lower serif on the 1's on the front only.
Rams: Change pants to what was worn in 1940 (saw a pic from 10/5 game vs Bears in the 10/6/41 Plain Dealer, and compared to the Bears white pants, they were definitelty still yellow). Stay with the blue helmet (though I'm not 100% certain on the helmet color, it seems to match up with the jersey colors).
Eagles: Add a dark blue top with straight silver pants combo. They wore this for the 11/30 home game with the Bears and the 12/7 away game with the Redskins.

Dodgers: Remove the lower serif on the 1's on the front only. Change color of khaki pants to white.
Rams: Change helmet to yellow (it definitely seems lighter than 1941's). Change pants to the 1940 yellow version.
Eagles: Remove the all green combo.
Dodgers: White shoulders should be squared off. Thicken the sock red stripes by a pixel each and bring them a tad closer together. Add red rear stripes on the red combo. Remove the bottom serif on the front 1 only on the blue jersey only.

Yanks: On white jersey add forearm stripes (only team I've ever seen wear forearm stripes) of thin green/medium gold/thin green. Wore this jersey 10/22 at Philly.
Tigers: Add a combo with pants same color as the jersey.
Rams: Change socks on the blue combo to blue with 3 yellow stripes. Saw no signs of "patch" on sleeve(s).
Packers: Add white jersey combo with yellow shoulders and numerals (worn at Cleveland on 11/12).
Eagles: Add the white jersey/silver pants combo with two sleeve stripes (worn at Boston 9/26 and 10/8 vs Skins at home)
Redskins: Add combo with jersey that looks like the 1938 gold numbered jersey (without) sleeve patches. They wore this jersey at least twice, 10/8 at Philly and 10/15 at Boston.

I did finish my mission with about an hour to spare, so I took a scenic drive in the Maryland countryside to get off the sometimes crazy interstate traffic.

My next sojourn to the LOC is scheduled for August 6th, where I will seek out the 1945-1948 era of NFL Uniforms. I will report back to you with those findings then.

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Thanks, Tim, we'll look forward to your next trip and further updates.


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  2. I've done a lot of research at the LOC in recent years, including the dimly lit Newspaper Reading Room. Having access to prominent national newspapers in those huge file drawers is a real time-saver. But there's nothing worse than reaching for your blue debit card only to realize that you left it in a Xerox machine at the Jefferson Building. :-) Speaking of Jefferson, trying to find the main reading room is like navigating Tutankhamen's tomb.



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