|Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center
The Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center was formally dedicated on Aug. 3, 2012. The new 10,000-square-foot Center is named in honor of Wilson, a member of the Hall of Fame and founder of the Buffalo Bills, whose gift of $2.5 million dollars made the state-of-the-art facility possible. The new archives are part of the Hall of Fame’s “Future 50” Expansion & Renovation Project, a two-year, $27 million endeavor.
The Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center houses and preserves the more than 20 million document pages and 3 million photographic images in the Hall of Fame’s collection.
The addition of the new Center also allows the Hall of Fame to renovate the space that previously housed the document collection and the three-dimensional artifact collection. The retrofitted space will then exclusively accommodate the ever-growing artifact collection.
“Ralph Wilson’s outstanding contributions to pro football over many decades are legendary,” stated Steve Perry, president/executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “His generous gift has greatly enhanced our ability to preserve the Hall of Fame’s rapidly growing collection of historic documents and artifacts.”
The Center also includes a video conferencing lab designed to connect schools and students from around the country to the educational assets of the Hall of Fame, including live interaction with Hall of Fame members; a rare books room and a researcher’s reading room.
The Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center houses the largest and most comprehensive collection related to the history of professional football. The following is a brief sampling of materials that can be found in the archives:
Spalding Guides, 1892-1940
More than 100 scrapbooks
Media Guides dating back to the 1930s
Game programs from the turn of the 20th century through the present
Game stories and summaries, 1920-present
Individual player files - thousands of players files are accessible through microfiche
Team files - in-depth clippings on current franchises in addition to hundreds of files on defunct NFL teams, other pro leagues, and semi-pro teams
Subject files - hundreds of files on various topics related to professional football
News releases - team and league news releases
Helping the museum accomplish its mission to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to professional football; to preserve professional football’s historic documents and artifacts; to educate the public regarding the origin, development and growth of professional football as an important part of American culture; and to promote the positive values of the sport, the staff of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center handles thousands of information inquiries each year.
These requests come from a variety of sources ranging from the NFL office in New York to the 32 member teams, media, and the academic community. Aside from these types of requests, the Hall of Fame’s communications and research staffs also fields questions from thousands of fans throughout the year.
Due to the large volume of inquiries that are received, the staff is limited in the amount of time that can be devoted to each individual request. Individuals who have extensive research needs are encouraged to visit in person to perform their research.
The Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center is open to the public, by appointment only, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To schedule an appointment, please call 330-456-8207.
For those individuals interested in obtaining information, requests should be made in writing. Please be sure to state your specific needs in detail. Your correspondence should be directed to:
Pro Football Hall of Fame
ATTN: Ralph Wilson Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center
2121 George Halas Drive NW
Canton, Ohio 44708