Guide to the Julian Black Scrapbooks of Joe Louis
NMAH.AC.0002

Administrative Information

Repository Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History, 1987

P.O. Box 37012
 Suite 1100, MRC 601
 Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
 Phone: 202-633-3270
 archivescenter@si.edu

http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives/

Revision Description

 Revised by Alison Oswald, archivist, 2014

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research. Use of microfiche and microfilm recommended. Some original volumes are fragile.

Conditions Governing Use note

Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Custodial History note

The collection was transferred from the Division of Home and Community Life to the Archives Center on January 28, 1983.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

This collection was donated by Mrs. Julian Black in two installments to the Division of Community Life (now the Division of Home and Community Life), National Museum of American History: twenty-two volumes in 1976 and eighty-seven volumes in 1977.

Processing Information note

The collection was processed by Robert Harding, archivist, 1987. Some of the scrapbooks are water damaged. A representative sample of undamaged volumes were retained in their original condition.

Existence and Location of Copies note

Microfiche editions of the scrapbooks was published by Chadwyck-Healey, Inc. Two sets of microfiche are available in the Archives Center and one set is available through the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, American History branch. Two reels of microfilm for volume 2 (Joe Louis vs. Primo Carnera, 1935) and volume 19 (Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1936) are available in the Archives Center.

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Summary Information

Repository
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Creator
Black, Julian, (boxing manager)
Creator
Black, Julian, Mrs.
Title
Julian Black Scrapbooks of Joe Louis
ID
NMAH.AC.0002
Date [inclusive]
1935-1944
Extent
109.00 Volumes
Language
English
Language of Materials note
Collection is in English.
Abstract
The collection consists of 109 scrapbooks of newspaper clippings assembled by Julian Black, manager of Joe Louis, heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949. They document Louis's career from 1935 to 1944.

Preferred Citation note

Julian Black Scrapbooks of Joe Louis, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

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Biographical/Historical note

Joe Louis Barrow, the seventh child of Monroe and Lily Barrow, was born May 13, 1914 in a cabin in the cotton fields of Lexington, Alabama. While Joe was still a young boy, his father suffered a mental breakdown and later died in the Searcy State Hospital near mobile, Alabama. His mother later married Pat Brooks, a widower with many children of his own, and the combined family moved to Detroit when Joe was ten.

After an introduction to boxing and lessons by his friend Thurston McKinney, Joe tried his luck at competition. The Brewster East Side Gymnasium became a second home for him. At sixteen he entered his first amateur tournament.

Joe Louis was an outstanding amateur. He lost only four decisions in fifty-four fights, and forty-one of his wins were by a knockout. Joe fought his last amateur fight on April 13, 1934, in St. Louis.

John Roxborough had encouraged Louis as an amateur and became his manager when Joe turned pro. Roxborough hired Jack Blackburn, a boxer himself, to coach and train the young Joe Louis. At this time Roxborough also teamed up with Julian Black of Chicago in a business venture that carried over into the management of Joe Louis.

Joe's professional debut took place in Bacon's Arena in Chicago on July 4, 1934. He decisively defeated Jack Kracken for a fifty-dollar purse. Only four of his first twenty-seven foes lasted all fifteen rounds.

As Joe Louis worked his way up the ladder as a contender for the heavyweight championship he acquired the nickname the "Brown Bomber." On May 14, 1935, one day after his twenty-first birthday, the young pugilist signed a ten-year contract with Julian Black. The contract stipulated that fifty percent of Joe Louis's gross earnings from boxing contests, exhibitions, movies, and radio would go to Julian Black. Jack Blackburn, the trainer, was paid from Joe's portion of the money. John Roxborough, the other manager, claimed "to have a contract for twenty-five percent of Louis's gross earnings for an indefinite period."

The newly organized 20th Century Sporting Club, with Mike Jacobs as promoter, operated in competition with Madison Square Garden. The club signed the promising young boxer to an exclusive contract. Joe's first appearance in a New York ring took place at Yankee Stadium on June 25, 1935, against Primo Carnera. Joe KO'd Carnera in the sixth round. On September 24, 1935, also at Yankee Stadium, Joe knocked out Max Baer in the fourth round.

After winning twenty-seven straight fights, including twenty-three KO's, Louis was the heir apparent to James J. Braddock's heavyweight title. On June 19, 1936 he battled max Schmeling, the former champ who was considered washed up. Schmeling surprised everyone by punishing and then finishing Louis off with a twelfth-round knockout.

A year later, in his thirty-sixth professional fight, Joe Louis won the heavyweight crown at twenty three years of age by defeating Jim Braddock in Chicago in eight rounds. Braddock fought Louis to avoid a fight with Max Schmeling and the possible loss of the title to a German. Braddock, however, insisted on a percentage of Louis's future purses. It is generally believed he received ten percent of all Joe's earnings over a period of fifteen years.

After defeating two easy opponents, Louis met max Schmeling in a dramatic rematch on June 22, 1938. Like Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympic Games, Louis symbolized American democracy versus an increasingly menacing Nazi Germany. The irony of a black hero representing a racially segregated society in a symbolic battle between freedom and oppression was not lost on all Americans and, although Louis himself was not a political activist, his example added fuel to the movement for racial equality and civil rights. Louis defeated Schmeling in two minutes and four seconds of the first round.

In the following years promoter Jacobs searched for opponents for Louis. After defeating five former champions - Carnera, Baer, Sharkey, Braddock, and Schmeling-the pickings were slim. on January 25, 1939, Joe "squared-off" with the first Black to fight him professionally -- John Henry Lewis (great-great nephew of Tom Molineaux, the first of America's Black heavyweight champions). Lewis was the light-heavyweight champion of the world and a natural 175 "pounder." He and Joe were close personal friends outside of the ring. Nevertheless, Joe totally outclassed Lewis in the ring.

Joe Louis defended his title twenty times before World War II interrupted his career. He was eventually classified 1-A and inducted into the Army. During the winter of 1941-1942 he staged bouts for the Navy and Army. The service relief fund received $75,000 from the purse of each fight. While in the service the Brown Bomber traveled extensively, giving boxing exhibitions and refereeing bouts. For his service on behalf of the armed forces, he received a citation from the United States government.

Louis retired an undefeated champion March 1, 1949. He came out of retirement and lost a fifteen-round decision to Ezzard Charles on September 27, 1950 at Yankee Stadium. He won eight more fights from the end of 1950 until the fall of 1951. However, on October 26, 1951, Louis lost by a knockout in the eighth round to Rocky Marciano. He retired for good after this comeback attempt. For many years after he retired, Joe had income tax problems and other financial problem. He also underwent a brief stay in a Denver psychiatric hospital. Joe Louis died in 1981. Click here to go to scope and content note.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection consists of 109 scrapbooks of newspaper clippings assembled by Julian Black, manager of Joe Louis, heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949. They document Louis's career from 1935 to 1944. Louis became one of America's most celebrated sports figures both for his extraordinary boxing skills and for his role as a symbol of national pride, especially in his bouts with the German champion Max Schmeling. His national respect and international prominence stood in ironic contrast to the nation's legal and social practices of racial segregation.

Joe Louis's manager, Julian Black, assembled three sets of scrapbooks to document Louis's career. This collection consists of ninety-two volumes from Black's set, sixteen volumes from a similar but not identical set of scrapbooks assembled for Louis, and one oversize miscellaneous volume.

The third set of scrapbooks belonged to John W. Roxborough, Joe's manager or co-manager from 1933 to 1948. It is held by the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. This set contains ninety-four volumes covering the period 1935 to November 1941. Part of this collection has been microfilmed. Although the numbering of the volumes in each of the three sets is different it appears that each set has the same information.

The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings from throughout the United States and Canada from 1935 to 1944 and articles from Ring magazine. This collection documents Joe Louis's fights from June 25, 1935, through 1944, including championship fights from June 22, 1937, through September 29, 1941. (The Steve Ketchel fight on January 11, 1937, in Buffalo is not represented. See the scrapbook volume listing at the end of this guide.)

The scrapbooks were assembled with great care using high-quality binding and paper. The clippings are neatly mounted and show great attention to detail. All clippings are identified by the name of the paper; the day of the week and the date; and the author, artist, or photographer. Clippings include full-length articles and brief sketches, cartoons, photographs, and records and statistics of the boxers. The clippings are grouped in volumes by each of Louis's fights and then arranged chronologically.

Hundreds of major and minor newspapers throughout the United States and Canada are represented in the scrapbooks. Coverage extends from very large metropolitan dailies to small-town newspapers. Among the newspapers represented are titles as diverse as: Akron Beacon Journal;  Daily Colonist, Victoria, British Columbia;   Shreveport Times;  Tribune Tulsa; and the  Worchester Daily Telegraph.

While these scrapbooks are about the Joe Louis fights, there is a wealth of material on many other people connected with boxing in this period, including all of Joe Louis's opponents, his trainer, his managers, his promoter Mike Jacobs, and most of the sports reporters and writers of the time. Anyone of any importance connected with boxing during this period can be found in the pages of these volumes. There are also retrospective articles on earlier boxers and historical fights.

The two sets of scrapbooks in this collection are numbered separately: the Julian Black Scrapbooks, Volumes 1-92; and the Joe Louis Scrapbooks, Volumes 17-20, 52-58, 61-63, and 71 and 72. Although much of the same material is found in both sets, there are sufficient differences in content and in physical condition of the volumes. The container list indicates the relationship between the two sets. The 109th volume consists of an oversize miscellaneous scrapbook of random news clippings, 1941-1944, of later Louis matches.

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Arrangement note

The collection is divided into two series. Clippings arranged chronologically in scrapbooks, grouped in volumes.

Series 1: Julian Black Volumes, 1935-1941

Series 2: Joe Louis Volumes, 1936-1940

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Controlled Access Headings

Genre(s)

  • Clippings--1930-1950
  • Scrapbooks--20th century

Personal Name(s)

  • Jacobs, Mike
  • Louis, Joe,1914-1981
  • Roxborough, John

Subject(s)

  • African American athletes
  • Boxers (Sports)--1930-1950
  • Boxing
  • Sports--1930-1950

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Bibliography

Chalk, Ocania. Pioneers of Black Sport. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1975.

Davis, Lenwood G. Joe Louis: A Bibliography of Articles, Books, Pamphlets, Records, and Archival Materials. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1983.

Fleischer, Nat. The Heavyweight Championship, An Informal History Of Heavyweight Boxing From 1719 to the Present. New York: Putnam, 1961.

Gipe, George. The Great American Sport Book, A Casual But Voluminous Look At American Spectator Sports From The Civil War To The Present Time. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1978.

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Collection Inventory

 Series 1: Julian Black Volumes, 1935-1941

1. Joe Louis vs. Primo Carnera, 1935

2. Joe Louis vs. Primo Carnera, 1935

3. Joe Louis vs. Levinsky, 1935

4. Joe Louis vs. Primo Carnera, 1935

5. Joe Louis vs. Max Baer, 1935

6. Joe Louis vs. Max Baer, 1935

7. Joe Louis vs. Max Baer, 1935

8. Joe Louis vs. Max Baer, 1935

9. Joe Louis vs. Paulino Uzcudun, 1935

10. Joe Louis vs. Paulino Uzcudun, 1935

11. Joe Louis vs. Paulino Uzcudun, 1935

12. Joe Louis vs. Paulino Uzcudun, 1935

13. Joe Louis vs. Charles Retzlaff, 1936

14. Joe Louis vs. Charles Retzlaff, 1936

15. Joe Louis vs. Charles Retzlaff, 1936

16. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1936

17. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1936

18. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1936

19. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1936

20. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1936

21. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1936

22. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1936

23. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1936

24. Joe Louis vs. Jack Sharkey, 1936

25. Joe Louis vs. Jack Sharkey, 1936

26. Joe Louis vs. Al Ettore, 1936

27. Joe Louis vs. Jorge Brescia, 1936

28. Joe Louis vs. Eddie Simms, 1936

29. Joe Louis vs. Bob Pastor, 1937

30. Joe Louis vs. Natie Brown, 1937

31. Joe Louis vs. James J. Braddock, 1937

32. Joe Louis vs. James J. Braddock, 1937

33. Joe Louis vs. James J. Braddock, 1937

34. Joe Louis vs. Jams J. Braddock, 1937

35. Joe Louis vs. James J. Braddock, 1937

36. Joe Louis vs. James J. Braddock, 1937

37. Joe Louis vs. James J. Braddock, 1937

38. Joe Louis vs. James J. Braddock, 1937

39. Joe Louis vs. James J. Braddock, 1937

40. Joe Louis vs. James J. Braddock, 1937

41. Joe Louis vs. Tommy Farr, 1937

42. Joe Louis vs. Tommy Farr, 1937

43. Joe Louis vs. Tommy Farr, 1937

44. Joe Louis vs. Tommy Farr, 1937

45. Joe Louis vs. Tommy Farr, 1937

46. Joe Louis vs. Tommy Farr, 1937

47. Joe Louis vs. Nathan Mann, 1938

49. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1938

48. Joe Louis vs. Harry Thomas, 1938

50. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1938

51. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1938

52. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1938

53. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1938

54. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1938

55. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1938

56. Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, 1938

57. Joe Louis vs. John Henry Lewis, 1938

58. Joe Louis vs. John Henry Lewis, 1939

59. Joe Louis vs. John Henry Lewis, 1939

60. Joe Louis vs. John Henry Lewis, 1939

61. Joe Louis vs. Jack Roper, 1939

62. Joe Louis vs. Jack Roper, 1939

63. Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, 1939

64. Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, 1939

65. Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, 1939

66. Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, 1939

67. Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, 1939

68. Joe Louis vs. Bob Pastor, 1939

69. Joe Louis vs. Bob Pastor, 1939

70. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

71. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

72. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

73. Joe Louis vs. Johnny Paychek, 1940

74. Joe Louis vs. Johnny Paychek, 1940

75. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

76. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

77. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

78. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

79. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

80. Joe Louis vs. Al McCoy, 1940

81. Joe Louis vs. Al McCoy, 1940

82. Joe Louis vs. Red Burman, 1941

83. Joe Louis vs. Gus Dorazio, 1941

84. Joe Louis vs. Abe Simon, 1941

85. Joe Louis vs. Tony Musto, 1941

86. Joe Louis vs. Buddy Baer, 1941

87. Joe Louis vs. Buddy Baer, 1941

88. Joe Louis vs. Billy conn, 1941

89. Joe Louis vs. Billy Com, 1941

90. Joe Louis vs. Lou Nova, 1941

91. Joe Louis vs. Lou Nova, 1941

92. Joe Louis vs. Lou Nova, 1941

Miscellaneous volume (oversize), 1941-1944

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 Series 2: Joe Louis Volumes, 1936-1940

17. Joe Louis vs. Jorge Bresci, 1936

18. Joe Louis vs. Eddie Simms, 1936

19. Joe Louis vs. Bob Pastor, 1937

20. Joe Louis vs. Natie Brown, 1937

52. Joe Louis vs. Jack Roper, 1939

53. Joe Louis vs. Jack Roper, 1939

54. Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, 1939

55. Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, 1939

56. Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, 1939

57. Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, 1939

58. Joe Louis vs. Tony Galento, 1939

61. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

62. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

63. Joe Louis vs. Arturo Godoy, 1940

71. Joe Louis vs. Al McCoy, 1940

72. Joe Louis vs. Al McCoy, 1940

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