These evocative images – and thousands more – are available via the The Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) section of the U.S. Library of Congress website. If you're a baseball fan, do yourself a favor and click over to this wondrous repository post haste. Once you're there, start typing in search terms related to baseball (don't worry if none immediately come to mind; the search function will recommend topics as you type). Then, prepare to be surprised and delighted at the images presented – and prepare to lose hours of your life meandering through the virtual aisles of this digital archive.
The site offers images in a variety of resolutions and file formats (the low-res samples included below don't begin to do these images justice; the sharpness and clarity on some are astounding). Remember to look up from your screen every few hours. Keeps the blood circulating.
- George Grantham Bain Collection: Spanning the late-1800s to 1930s, this absolutely wonderful collection features Dead Ball-era superstars (Cobb, Lajoie, Sisler, early Ruth, Young, Wagner, Lajoie and many, many others) and lesser-known but historically significant players (if you can think of a player from this era, the Bain Collection probably has a photo). This is a jaw-dropping collection for any fan or student of the game. Not to be missed.
- Benjamin K Edwards Collection: You already know about the T206 Honus Wagner card; now you can brush up on some of the other rarities you keep hoping will turn up in dusty corner of the attic. This collection highlights more than 2000 early baseball cards dating from 1887 to 1914.
- Harris & Ewing Collection: The Harris & Ewing collection focuses mainly on life and society in and around the Washington, D.C. area (1905-1945). As such, the political elite (and political rabble) are well-represented (you'll find beautiful shots of presidents and power brokers over this time frame). But you'll also find wonderful baseball photographs. As might be expected, the Washington Senators (the team, as well as the office holders) are well-represented.
- Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860-1960: A small but carefully curated digital collection (that unfortunately features but a handful of Robinson photos).
(Scroll down for a brief slideshow)