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Hall of Fame for Great Americans

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  • Hall of Fame for Great Americans

    The Hall of Fame for Great Americans made "hall of fame talk" commonplace early in the 20th century. (One baseball hall of fame was the portraits of annual batting champions(?) that NL president Harry Pulliam hung in the NL offices.) The first election was in 1900 and the last in 1976. See wikipedia for an introduction. Here is a link with the complete preface.

    "Hall of Fame for Great Americans" at wikipedia
    The Hall of Fame for Great Americans, is the original "Hall of Fame" in the United States. "Fame" here means "renown" (rather than today's more common meaning of "celebrity")[1]. Its originator, Chancellor Henry Mitchell MacCracken, acknowledged inspiration from the Ruhmeshalle (Hall of Fame) in Munich.[2]

    It is a (secular) "national shrine" on the grounds of the Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. Though the Hall's renown has itself has faded, its glorious architecture remains, and the hall stands as a shrine not just to great men, but to Roman ideals of fame favored at the beginning of the 20th Century.[3]

    Completed in 1900, as part of the original New York University campus at the site, the building was donated by Helen Gould[4] and was formally dedicated on May 30, 1901.

    The Hall of Fame stands on the heights occupied by the British army in its successful attack upon Fort Washington in the autumn of 1776. Dr. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, originator of The Hall of Fame and Chancellor of New York University once said:

    "Lost to the invaders of 1776, this summit is now retaken by the goodly troop of 'Great Americans', General Washington their leader. They enter into possession of these Heights and are destined to hold them, we trust, forever."[citation needed]

  • #2
    Here may be food for thought regarding the Baseball Hall of Fame inductions of the same time period.

    The Hall of Fame for Great Americans, with elections every five years, inducted only one person in 1940 (songwriter Stephen Foster, d. 1864), then four in 1945, six in 1950.

    Maybe something fostered an exclusive notion of historical Greatness around 1940 --a decade of capitalist depression and a world at war? Maybe a baseball Hall established in 1920 would have inducted big classes throughout the Roaring Twenties.


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