Teaching With Documents:
Beyond the Playing Field -
Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate


To the average man in the average American community, Jackie Robinson was just what the sports pages said he was, no more, no less. He was the first Negro to play baseball in the major leagues. Everybody knew that. . . . In remembering him, I tend to de-emphasize him as a ball player and emphasize him as an informal civil rights leader. That's the part that drops out, that people forget.

-Rachel Robinson

Jackie Robinson 

Jack Roosevelt Robinson (1919-72), the first black man to "officially" play in the big leagues in the 20th century, possessed enormous physical talent and a fierce determination to succeed. In the course of a distinguished 10-year career beginning in 1947, Robinson led the Brooklyn Dodgers to six National League titles and one victorious World Series. Beyond his many and stellar baseball feats, Jackie Robinson went on to champion the cause of civil rights when he retired from the game.

The National Archives and Records Administration holds numerous records relating to Jackie Robinson, many of which pertain to his period of civil rights advocacy. Several belonging to that time have been reproduced here for educators teaching courses that involve civil rights events and issues, character education, and effective citizenship skills.

Above: Jackie Robinson, undated, Records of the United States Information Agency, Record Group 306 (306-PS-50-4730), is available from the Still Pictures Branch at the National Archives at College Park, MD.

The Documents

  1. Telegram to the White House
    August 13, 1957
  2. Letter to President Eisenhower
    May 13, 1958
  3. Draft letter from Vice-President Nixon
    November 4, 1960
  4. Letter to President Kennedy
    February 9, 1961
  5. Telegram to President Kennedy
    June 15, 1963
  6. Photograph
    August 28, 1963
  7. Telegram to President Johnson
    March 9, 1965
  8. Letter to President Johnson
    April 18, 1967
  9. Letter to the White House
    April 20, 1972

    Jackie Robinson Quotes


Lesson Resources

Standards Correlations

Teaching Activities: Civil Rights History

Teaching Activities: Character Education

Teaching Activities: Civic Responsibility

Document Analysis Worksheet

Photograph Analysis Worksheet


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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272