Five new large format photographs have been added to DigitalNC’s image collection thanks to our partners at Johnson C. Smith University. A historically black university, Johnson C. Smith University has been a fixture in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1867.
As these new photos are all from the early 1900s, you may notice an institution name change between the image titles. First established as Biddle Memorial Institute, Johnson C. Smith University was known as Biddle University between 1876 and 1923 before arriving at its current name.
Several of these images capture traditional university moments, such as graduation, class photos, and reunions.
Of note is a panoramic photo taken during a 1929 rivalry baseball game. This candid shot of the crowd avidly watching an Easter Monday match between Johnson C. Smith University and Livingstone College depicts just how well attended baseball games were at the time.
As would have been well known in the early 1900s, white baseball teams barred black players from joining their leagues, effectively segregating the sport. Black communities thus formed their own professional baseball leagues, culminating in a national organization known as the Negro National League, organized by Andrew (Rube) Foster in 1920. Baseball continued to be a popular and lucrative enterprise for the black community throughout the mid-1900s, splitting into western and eastern circuits. The last of the leagues folded in 1962. While Johnson C. Smith University no longer has a baseball team, spectators can still enjoy following the women’s softball team, the Golden Bulls.
To see the newest photos in their entirety, click here. To view all images from Johnson C. Smith University, click here. And to learn more about Johnson C. Smith University, you can visit their home page here.