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Babe Ruth photographic materials

Identifier: BA PHT 012.1936.Ruth

Scope and Contents

The series documents the life and career of Babe Ruth. The materials date from 1911 to 1990 with the bulk of the materials dating from 1920 to 1948. This series includes photographs spanning his professional baseball career and life that includes action shots, group shots, and portraits.


  • 1911-1990, undated
  • Majority of material found in 1911-1948

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions but viewing materials does require an appointment. Please contact the Giamatti Research Center,, 607-547-0330

Conditions Governing Use

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum provides use copies of materials to facilitate private study, scholarship, and research. The Museum welcomes you to use materials in our collections that are in the public domain and to make fair use of copyrighted materials as defined by copyright law and with proper citation. Permission to publish materials must be obtained from: Giamatti Research Center, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, 25 Main St., Cooperstown, NY 13326 Phone: 607.547.0330 E-mail:

Biographical / Historical

George Herman Ruth was born February 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland to Katherine and George Herman Ruth Sr. In 1902, Ruth was sent to St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, an orphanage and reformatory, at the age of seven to teach him discipline. It was here that he learned to play baseball.

He signed a contract with the minor league Baltimore Orioles in 1914. Ruth received his nickname "Babe" when his minor league teammates referred to him as manager Jack Dunn's new babe.

He began his major league career with the Red Sox in 1914, as a pitcher and also played first base and the outfield. By 1915, he was with the Red Sox full time and led them to three World Series titles in 1915, 1916, and 1918.

In 1920, Ruth was traded to the New York Yankees, where he shifted from pitcher to outfielder. It was in New York where Ruth became known for his dominance at the plate and rose to a global stardom that baseball had never seen before. His 15 seasons with the Yankees comprise of four World Series titles in 1923, 1927, 1928, and 1932, and numerous individual accolades.

In 1935, Ruth joined the Boston Braves as a player and assistant manager. This would be his last season as a player and he retired on June 2nd, 1935. He ended his major league career with many records, including a record of 714 home runs that he held until 1974.

Ruth briefly returned to Major League Baseball in 1938 as the Brooklyn Dodgers first base coach, but left after one season.

Ruth's professional ambitions were not limited to Major League Baseball. Around 1914, Ruth took an interest in Hollywood and began appearing in movies; he would continue to act long after his retirement from baseball. Ruth also played in barnstorming and exhibition games during and after his career. He barnstormed with Lou Gehrig for several years, toured with other players in Japan, and played in War Bond Games to raise money during WWII.

Babe Ruth's personal life garnered as much attention as his career. He married Helen Woodford October 17, 1914, in Baltimore Maryland. In 1921, they adopted a baby girl, Dorothy. It was later proven that Dorothy was in fact Ruth's biological child from an affair he had with a woman named Juanita Jennings. Babe and Helen were separated by 1926 and in January 1929, Helen passed away in a house fire.

On April 17, 1929, Ruth married his second wife, Claire Merritt Hodgson. She had a daughter, Julia, from her first marriage who was legally adopted by Ruth on October 30, 1930. Dorothy was also legally adopted by Claire on this date.

Ruth was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame's first class in 1936 with 95.13% of the vote.

In 1946, Ruth's health started to fail and he was diagnosed with cancer, though he was never told that specific detail. He died on August 16, 1948 at the age of 53.


2.83 Cubic Feet (in 6 photograph clamshell boxes)

5.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This series is part of a larger collection and was broken into a separate finding aid for ease of use. It documents the pictorial history of baseball player, Babe Ruth's, career and personal life. It primarily includes photographs from his baseball career, ranging from general action, portraits, and group shots. It also includes photographs with family, friends, and children.


This series is arranged into seven subseries: Series 1. Barnstorming and Exhibition Games; Series II. Family; Series III. Groups; Series IV. Major League Baseball; Series V. Miscellaneous; Series VI. Special Events; Series VIII. Sports

Physical Location

Dean O. Cochran, Jr. Photograph Archives, PS 1-2

Custodial History

This series is part of an artifical collection, Baseball Hall of Famers photographic materials, created from smaller donations of images of Babe Ruth. The photographs in this collection were created and donated by a variety of people and institutions since the Museum first began accepting donations.

Immediate Source of Acquisition



Due to the age of the collection, it is unknown if any materials were removed during accessioning or initial processing. During the Museum's provenance restoration project, materials that were part of other collections were separated to that collection.


This series is part of an artifical collection created from smaller donations of images of Babe Ruth. Accruals are expected to arrive over time.

Guide to the Babe Ruth photographic materials
Hall of Famer photographic materials
Tess Hamilton
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Archives Repository

25 Main St.
Cooperstown NEW YORK 13326 USA