Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Harlem Rens


Harlem Rens Poster Collage

A fun part of exploring primary sources is discovering unique artifacts  that are not what we typically expect.  One example is an  interview with James Naismith, the inventor of basketball that was recently discovered by a Kansas University Professor.

The interview inspired me to renew  my search for Library of Congress resources  about the Harlem Rens. I learned about the Rens while watching On the Shoulders of Giants: An Audio Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance,  a movie based on Kareen Abduhl Jabbar’s audio book.  The film is about so much more than basketball!  Primary sources support the fascinating narrative of segregation, civil rights and of course the Rens.  Jabbar was at the showing.  It was incredibly inspiring.

LOC has a few items related to the Rens.
Genial Robert Douglas, who operates the Renaissance Casino, with his cat Rennie  (Photograph showing Douglas, owner of the Renaissance Casino in Harlem and founder of the Renaissance Five basketball team, holding his cat.)
S.Con.Res.57 – A concurrent resolution recognizing the contributions of African-American basketball teams and players for their achievements, dedication, and contributions to the sport of basketball and the Nation.

I could almost hear everyone’s head spinning with curriculum ideas!
What are your ideas for incorporating sports and sports history into the curriculum?

More Resources
Today in History & New York mayoral proclamation (2013)
The Harlem Rens (Black Fives Foundation)
LOC:   Primary Source Sets , eBook Student Discovery Sets and teaching ideas
Harlem Renaissance
Jim Crow and Segregation

On the Shoulders of Giants: The Story of the Greatest Team You Never Heard Of,  2011 historical sports documentary film directed by Deborah Morales, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse.

KU professor discovers only known audio recording of James Naismith, inventor of basketball

Learn more about using Primary Sources in your classroom



1940 RCA radioWhat team won the first professional basketball tournament in 1939? What high school  team won the 1960 Minnesota State High School League Tournament?

The March 21 Minneapolis Star Tribune featured highlights of past state high school basketball  tournaments with special emphasis on small town Edgerton’s championship victory over a team from a much larger school and city. It’s an unforgettable game for many Minnesotans; I listened with my father.

A reader stumbled upon my blog searching for basketball primary sources.   It’s a good excuse for me to write about one of my favorite topics!

Team stats are a good starting place. Live stats are availability instantly and archived on university and professional team websites.  I explore the stats after every Winona State U.  game and check conference and national rankings often.  It’s amazing to see just how much data can be generated from a spreadsheet and in how many ways it can be displayed.  ( I used basketball stats to learn the fundamentals of  Inspire Data.) My favorite artifacts include newspaper clippings, posters, photos, tickets, program booklets and souvenirs.   The Run, a book celebrating the team’s national championships is a collection of interviews with players, their families, fans, support staff and others. Written by a university professor, the book tells stories that might not otherwise been preserved.

Friends and I were in the right place at the right time at AASL in Minneapolis last fall when a Follett Library Company representative nvited us to meet  Kareem Abdul Jabbar!  We didn’t hesitate a minute before heading to  a reception and preview of On the Shoulder of Giants, a documentary film based on Jabbar’s book about the Harlem Rens professional basketball team, the first winner of a national professional basketball tournament. The film shows game clips, player interviews and primary source videos of basketball games and the racial and cultural environment of the Harlem Renaissance era.  I almost could see the curriculum connections churning in the minds of educators who viewed the film.

Primary sources are all around us! They tell our stories and they help us understand our cultural.  Basketball stats, game clips and player interviews might be just the ticket we need to connect  kids with primary sources.

P.S. I still have that  1940’s era radio! I turn it on every now and then just to check; the Star Spangled Banner was playing as I took the photo!

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