The materials in this collection relate primarily to the professional life of James Naismith. Naismith was born in Almonte, Ontario, Canada in 1861. He graduated from McGill University with an A.B. in 1887 and Presbyterian College in Montreal with a religion degree in 1890. From 1890-91, Naismith was both a student and an instructor at the YMCA Training School (now Springfield College), and he continued as an instructor at the International YMCA Training School until 1895. During Naismith’s second year at Springfield (winter 1891), he invented the game of basketball. Naismith continued his education with a medical degree from the University of Colorado and finally settled at the University of Kansas as a professor and coach. Naismith retired in 1937 and died in 1939.
The collection includes photographs, the official records from Naismith’s time at the YMCA Training School, now Springfield College, two manuscripts about Naismith (one by his daughter-in-law and one by his friend R. Tait McKenzie, the sculptor), a manuscript by Naismith himself entitled “The Origin of Basketball,” Naismith’s correspondence with Springfield College’s Alumni Association (primarily George O. Draper), and a letter he wrote about basketball in 1898 to T.J. Browne. The rest of the collection contains materials about Naismith, including several articles, information about the establishment of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, letters from Forrest C. Allen and Paul Endacott, a nomination for the “Hall of Fame of Great Americans” at NYU, and numerous scrapbook pages filled with newspaper articles, photographs, etc.