Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cooperstown Students open WPA Exhibit

By: Ansel Laurio, Cooperstown Graduate Program, Class of 2009
Exhibit panels have been printed and final preparations are well underway for the upcoming exhibition at the New York State Historical Association’s Research LibraryDoubleday and the WPA: National Relief for a National Pastime – chronicaling Doubleday Field’s rise from sandlot to icon during the early part of the twentieth century. Many are aware of the legend of baseball’s invention by Abner Doubleday on the location of the famous field in 1839. Few know, however, how the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal agency formed during the Great Depression, helped to create the Doubleday Field which we know and enjoy today.
This wintry view from a nearby rooftop shows the skeletal grandstand under construction. WPA projects such as Doubleday Field’s improvements brought hope to people weathering the bleak economy. Winter 1938/1939.

Working along with my fellow Cooperstown Graduate Program classmates, Ashley Domm, Erin Andrews, and Nicholas Wood, we have created an exhibit that explores the transformation of Doubleday Field by the WPA for baseball’s centennial season in 1939. The subsequent celebration was an expression of hope and pride for a community dealing with hard economic times. The research we have done for this exhibit uncovered never before exhibited photographs from the Smith and Telfer Collection, as well as blueprints and broadsides from the NYSHA Research Library. We were fortunate to be able to work closely with and receive loaned objects from The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Crowds gathering in Cooperstown during baseball’s centennial season, 1939.
The exhibit will be open to the public on May 15th, and we hope that you will all stop by to check it out! The Research Library is open Monday through Friday, 10:00am-5:00pm.

Top: Doubleday Field Construction, 1939. NYSHA collection, PH 15,287.
Bottom: Opening Day, Doubleday Field, 1939. Smith and Telfer Collection 5-12198.

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