HomeAbout the Project

About the Project

This site is a response to questions the Springfield College Archives and Special Collections has received from numerous students, administrators, and researchers about the 18 students who played in the first game of basketball back on Dec. 21, 1891.

One would think the questions would be easy, having been answered long ago.

After all, this is one of the few sports whose origins are known and documented. Multiple books and articles have been written! Dr. James Naismith and Thomas Patton

But if you look around, the information on who these first played is very limited.

Were they students? What did they study? Were they just men from the local Y? 

What were they going to do with the knowledge they gained after graduation?

Did the game change their lives? What did they do in their life?

Even simple questions like, "Do you have a photograph of the men?" are often hard to answer.

Something had to be done.

Enter the Social Science Department's Public History and Museum Minor.

The program was designed to allow students "to play a substantial role in determining how the past is remembered and understood utilizing a hands-on approach to sharing historical facts and stories."

Truly, we couldn't think of a better project to help with this project!

Beginning in January 2018, the Archives first official Public History and Museum Minor intern, Sam Fox, started the First Basketball Players Project, a project designed to organize, research, and, using this website, display the information on the 18 individuals who played the first game of Basketball.

Fox, a Sport Management Major, started worked in the Spring of 2018. Afterward, he was hired as an Archives Assistant to continue work on the project.

The project includes:

  • Information on the life of the 18 men to be used to write a basic biography and timeline,
  • The Archival Collections that identify all materials in the Archives on these men,
  • Outreach to other institutions and to the descendants of these men with the goal of collecting additional materials to find out more about their lives,  
  • Adding materials to this site to allow easy access for researchers to investigate and learn about these men. 

This site is a work in progress and growing as more information and materials are found and added.

Check back as often as you wish, the work will be ongoing!

--- Jeff Monseau, Springfield College Archivist

Updated: March 1, 2020