George Burke and George Brace photographic materials
The collection documents the baseball photography career of George Burke and possibly his assistant, George Brace. The materials date from 1929 to 1951, and the materials include over 7000 acetate negatives, glass-plate negatives, and prints. The majority of the materials are 5 x 7 acetate negatives. These negatives include portraits of various baseball players and managers, including several Hall of Famers like Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. There are also portraits of various American and National League teams, such as the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, the Boston Bees, Braves and Red Sox, and more. The vast majority of the portraits are taken outdoors in a baseball stadium during practices or games, but some of the photographs are taken in George Burke's studio.
- btw. 1929-1951, undated
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Biographical / Historical
George Burke (1874-1951) and George Brace (1913-2002) were the official photographers the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, and the National Football League's Chicago Bears between 1929 and 1951. In 1929, as the Chicago Cubs manager Joe McCarthy searched for the team's previous photographer, whose name was Francis Burke, McCarthy instead came across studio photographer George Burke in the Chicago, Illinois phonebook. Seeing that the studio was just a 15-minute walk from Wrigley Field, McCarthy invited George to become the team's official photographer, igniting what would become a distinguished baseball photography career. Though Burke happily took on the role, he did not know much about the game itself and therefore hired and mentored a young baseball enthusiast by the name of George Brace. Together, they became a team and a permanent fixture of both Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park.
Over the course of their career, they assembled a photographic portfolio of player portraits from several American and National League teams as they passed through Chicago's stadiums. Combined, Burke and Brace captured thousands of portraits of baseball players across most of the 20th century, forging their legacy in the history of baseball photography. Some players, including Babe Ruth, bought prints of their portraits from Burke to autograph for their fans. Additionally, Burke took photographs for the Goudey and Play Ball baseball card creators.
Burke suffered a heart attack in 1948 that greatly diminished his ability to take photographs, so Brace increased his participation as the Chicago teams' official photographer until Burke's death in 1951. After Burke died, Brace stepped down as the official photographer but continued to take baseball photographs as a hobby until 1994 when he developed eye problems. Additionally, Brace inherited the rights to Burke's archive of negatives after Burke died and subsequently sold reprints of his images. Brace died on June 15, 2002 in Chicago at the age of 89.
5.76 Cubic Feet (In 17 negatives boxes, 1 oversize negatives box, 1 glass-plate negatives box, and 1 prints box. 20 total boxes.)
13.25 Linear feet
The collection documents the baseball photography career of George Burke and possibly his assistant, George Brace, between 1929 and 1951. It primarily includes portraits of players and managers as they passed through Chicago baseball stadiums like Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field, and many people are documented at various points throughout their entire Major League careers.
The collection is organized alphabetically by last name and then by date when there are multiple negatives of the same person.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Researchers are limited to print copies and digital surrogates of the negatives in this collection.
PC 3-5 and PC 3-6
The materials in this collection were created by photographer George Burke and possibly photographer George Brace. They were donated to the Museum in 2016 by an anonymous donor, and they arrived at the institution in 8 plastic containers of varying sizes. The majority of the donation was the Burke and Brace negatives, but it also included materials created by photographer Daniel Brearley, which will be their own separate collection.
The three George Burke prints in the collection are from two separate donations. The prints of James Bagby (1942) and Paul Gehrman (1937) were donated to the Museum in 2012 by Richard Kremer, and the print of Honus Wagner (btw. 1933-1935) was donated to the Museum in 1946 by an unknown donor.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Materials were donated to the Museum in 2016 by an anonymous donor, but there is no documentation concerning the provenance of these materials.
Materials were placed in new acid-free sleeves and boxes. Information regarding the player in the photograph, when available, was transcribed onto negative sleeves.
Decisions regarding the arrangment, description, and physical interventions for this collection prior to 2019 are unknown. In 2019, Photo Archives intern Mickey Lanning rehoused these materials and organized the collection alphabetically by player's last name. Previous interns had rehoused a small portion of negatives from this collection, but this work was doublechecked and corrected when necessary.
Because George Burke and George Brace worked so closely together on photographing these players, and because some negatives may possibly be dated beyond the year Burke was most capable of taking photographs (1948), it is possible that some of these negatives may have been created by George Brace.
- Guide to the George Burke and George Brace photographic materials BA.PHT.021
- Mickey Lanning in 2019
- July 2019
- Language of description
- Script of description