W. Jacob Cornwell

Profile photo of W. Jacob Cornwell  

I continually work to uncover the hidden history of African-American baseball in Oklahoma. After years of hearing about teams like the Tulsa Black Oilers and the Oklahoma City Black Indians, I decided to embark on a project to satiate his own personal interests. I quickly realized that many people around the state never knew Oklahoma had organized Negro League teams. I also discovered that a black baseball vacancy previously existed within Oklahoma and professional Negro League histories. After thorough research, I found a thriving world of organized teams and leagues that began during territorial days in the 1890s and stretched into the Civil Rights era in the 1960s. To establish the rich legacy of various teams and past players, I traveled all over Oklahoma and to nearby states to conduct interviews and search various archives--both digital and physical. Over the past three years, I have assembled a library of personal interviews with former players, their descendants, and fans who watched black baseball games. An advocate for historic preservation, both physical and digital, I also documented various past ballparks where black teams played. In December 2015, I completed my master's thesis, "Playing between the Lines: An Examination of Negro League Baseball in Oklahoma, 1892 to 1965," that explores black baseball around the state.

Currently, I am a freelance public historian and writer. I work with corporations, nonprofits, and museums to put together history exhibits. I am in the process of establishing a nonprofit to "preserve, conserve, and save" Oklahoma's rich baseball history. Additionally, I have a documentary in the works to bring the story of the Oklahoma Negro Leagues to visually bring this project to life.