Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Take me out to the ball game!

Game one of the World Series begins tonight at 7:55 p.m., when the Philadelphia Phillies will face off against the New York Yankees. The staff here at the National Constitution Center, while non-partisan in all things political, will (mostly) all be rooting for the red! Now what, you ask, does baseball have to do with civic education? A lot!

As America’s favorite pastime, baseball has played an important role in American culture and American life. The struggles and triumphs of American history can been directly seen in the evolution of Baseball, from the Negro leagues to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, through today.

One of the most interesting documents in baseball history was written by President Franklin D. Roosevelt – known as the Green Light Letter, it offers a great opportunity to look at primary sources with your students. Primary sources, while of great historical value, can sometimes, let’s face it, be a bit dull for students. But, because many students will be tuning in tonight to watch the game, the Green Light Letter can be a fun and timely way to introduce students to the importance of primary sources.

The Green Light Letter was written on January 15, 1942 from Roosevelt to baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Landis. Landis had written to the President, expressing his concern over whether or not Baseball should continue, in light of the current war. Roosevelt responded with the Green Light letter, expressing the importance of Baseball to American Spirit.

Have your students read the Green Light letter, which can be found here . What are the reasons Roosevelt gives for the continuation of Baseball? What does the letter say about American life in the 1940s? Discuss with your students the importance of Primary Sources, and what they can tell us about the past.

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