Reading the Sports Pages

By Sunny Jane Morton Premium

 Dedicated sports pages began appearing in US newspapers around the 1890s and quickly expanded. Even papers without separate sports sections reported sores and highlights of high school, community, semi-pro and professional games.


  • Search for sporting relatives’ names, their team names, star players and rival teams in the digitized newspapers at the free Chronicling America website.
  • Next, look for titles of local newspapers. Click on US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present, a searchable list of all known newspapers. Search by place and date range, then click on a result to see the paper’s dates of publication and geographic coverage, as well as libraries that have it.
  • Once you find a title on Chronicling America, search online for the newspaper title to see if it’s been digitized on another website.
  • Digitized searching in old newspapers isn’t entirely reliable. For most thorough results, spend some time browsing local newspaper issues that cover the time period your relative played. 
  • High school games may receive excellent coverage in small-town papers, especially for big matches and when teams or star players were doing well. 
  • Look for games, matches or tournaments in papers covering all teams represented at the event. You may find unique details, photos and statistics in a paper from “the other team’s” town.
  • Community leagues may report scores at the back of the sports section in an agate, which features summary rows or columns with quick rundowns of scores or stats.