Pictured is an 1868 Women’s Base Ball Game in Peterboro, courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown.

Author to unravel mystery of women’s baseball in Peterboro1868 Peterboro Women's Baseball Game, Courtesy National Baseball Hall of Fame Library crp cmp

(Peterboro, NY- May 2013) At least 26 newspaper articles published around the nation in 1868 reported the existence of women’s baseball clubs. Thanks to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and an anonymous reporter, the baseball club in Peterboro was the best documented of the women’s teams in the 1860s.

During a three week visit in August 1868 at the Peterboro home of her cousin, abolitionist Gerrit Smith, Stanton wrote three letters for her women’s rights publication The Revolution. A letter written on Aug. 1, and published on Aug. 5, included a description of a female baseball club that began with this statement: “We were delighted to find here a base ball club of girls. Nannie Miller, a grand-daughter of Gerrit Smith, is the Captain, and handles the club with a grace and strength worth of notice.”

Conflicting information in the anonymous report, and a misleading date on a newspaper photograph at the Baseball Hall of Fame, created a mystery for many years on just what happened with women’s baseball in Peterboro.

At 2 p.m. Sunday June 16 in Peterboro, Debra Shattuck, author of the article “Women’s Baseball in the 1860s: Reestablishing a Historical Memory” (published in Nine: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture) will unravel part of the mystery of 1868 women’s baseball in Peterboro.

In her Powerpoint presentation “Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball Pioneers,” Shattuck will describe the early roots of America’s national pastime and demonstrate that girls and women have been playing bat and ball games since Medieval times.  Females have been playing the various games known as “base ball” since their inception in England and antebellum America.  Shattuck will discuss the Peterboro teams and whether or not women baseball players considered their actions to be part of the broader women’s rights movement of the time.

Shattuck is a retired Air Force Colonel who is currently working on a PhD in history from the University of Iowa.  She has been researching the history of women baseball players for more than 10 years and is writing the book, “Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball Pioneers” for the University of Illinois Press.  She has published a number of articles on the subject and enjoys making presentations on the subject to civic groups and academic conferences.

Shattuck is married to Cliff Shattuck and the couple has three grown children, David, Kristen and Katie. They reside in the Black Hills of Rapid City, SD.

The program will be held at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro. Admission is $3 and free for students and stewards for benefit of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark.

For more information and updates: www.gerritsmith.org, info@gerritsmith.org or call 315-280-8828.




By martha

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