The Mission of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is to “Honor the Greatest of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence Together.” Nowhere is this mission more evident than inside the Ralph Wilson Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.
The Research and Preservation Center was formally dedicated Aug. 3, 2012. The 10,000-square-foot center is named in honor of Wilson, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009 and founder of the Buffalo Bills, whose gift of $2.5 million dollars made the state-of-the-art facility possible. The archives were part of the Hall of Fame’s “Future 50” Expansion & Renovation Project, a two-year, $27-million endeavor.
This is where the documentary evidence of the history of professional football is preserved. A vast archive of more than 40 million pages of documents and primary source materials are protected with a climate-controlled system. The archives collection includes rare documents, personal papers, game programs, special collections, publications, team records, league records and oral and video histories relating to individuals and the history of professional football. It also archives a collection of more than 6 million photographic images.
Additionally, the Research and Preservation Center is the repository for the Hall of Fame’s artifact collection that includes more than 30,000 individual objects. Together, the archives and artifact collections serve to preserve an enduring record of the sport, its past and the Legends who made pro football America’s most popular sport.
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 Research and Preservation Center is open to the public, by appointment only, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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, OH 44708