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A page from Effa Manley’s scrapbook. Effa Manley Scrapbook, BA SCR 105 (National Baseball Hall of Fame).

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Effa Manley in the dugout, from a newspaper article in her scrapbook. Effa Manley Scrapbook, BA SCR 105 (National Baseball Hall of Fame).

Effa Manley, the only woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, collected items and placed them into a scrapbook showcasing her incredible accomplishments. She, along with her husband Abe, managed the Newark Eagles, a Negro League baseball team, from 1935 to 1948. [1] In an occupation dominated by men, Effa excelled and commanded respect from her male counterparts. In addition to her professional achievements, she involved herself in a number of social justice causes, all related to advancing the rights of African-Americans. Her scrapbook documents these successes and her activist efforts. Though she did not specifically embrace women’s causes, her accomplishments were affected and made possible by the women’s suffrage movement and the atmosphere of opportunity and activism at the time.

Effa’s scrapbook primarily contains photographs and newspaper clippings, spanning from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. One of the first items in her scrapbook is a newspaper clipping from August 1934 detailing the end of a successful boycott in which Effa participated. She, along with many others, boycotted businesses who wouldn’t hire black workers. [2] Effa also supported blacks in efforts more directly related to baseball: she offered free admission to Eagles games for African-American servicemen during World War II. The scrapbook includes a few certificates commending her work. [3]

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One of the newspaper articles in the scrapbook discusses the successful boycott of businesses that did not hire African-Americans. Effa participated in the boycott and picketed these businesses. Effa Manley Scrapbook, BA SCR 105 (National Baseball Hall of Fame).

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Cartoon in a newspaper article in the scrapbook. Effa Manley Scrapbook, BA SCR 105 (National Baseball Hall of Fame).

The scrapbook also documents racial issues and debates. Though African-Americans had won the right to vote over fifty years ago, many opportunities were closed to them and many institutions maintained separate programs and facilities, including baseball leagues. Effa’s scrapbook contains a number of articles both praising and criticizing the Negro Leagues. Additionally, a few racist cartoons appear, making fun of black baseball players. [4] Effa may have included these in her memories to record the sentiment of the time.

Of course, the scrapbook has content related to the Newark Eagles, like scores and photographs of players. Effa worked to gain compensation for players who went to the Major Leagues from the Negro Leagues after baseball’s integration in 1947. [5] Her efforts solidified the legitimacy of the Negro Leagues and are documented in the scrapbook. The scrapbook also contains a few articles about Effa herself and discuss her place as a woman in baseball. These pieces praise her work and comment on her pioneering presence in the realm of professional sports.

Born in 1900 in Philadelphia, Effa grew up hearing discussions of women’s suffrage. Though she was probably too young to fully participate in the protests and marches occurring in Philadelphia during this time, she would have been aware of it. In fact, after high school, she moved to New York City, where she lived when women’s suffrage legislation passed in 1917. [6] The success of the movement resulted in new opportunities for women and a confirmation that women could effect positive change. Effa Manley could not have accomplished as much as she did had it not been for the possibilities opened by the suffrage movement. Her work, documented through her scrapbook, was inspired by and made possible by the achievements of women before her.

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Writing on a page of Effa’s scrapbook. It reads, “If a task you’ve once begun/Never quit until it’s done/Be the labor great or small/Do it well or not at all” Effa Manley Scrapbook, BA SCR 105 (National Baseball Hall of Fame).

Amanda Berman

 

Endnotes

[1] “Effa Manley,” National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, accessed March 20, 2017, http://baseballhall.org/hof/manley-effa.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Effa Manley scrapbook, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

[5] Amy Essington, “Manley, Effa 1900-1981,” Black Past, accessed March 20, 2017, http://www.blackpast.org/aah/manley-effa-1900-1981.

[6] “Effa Manley,” National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, accessed March 20, 2017, http://baseballhall.org/hof/manley-effa.

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