From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Early Bowling Associations & Louisville, KY

Prior to the integration of the American Bowling Congress (ABC), the Women's International Bowling Congress (WIBC), and the National Negro Bowling Association (NNBA), the city of Louisville, KY served as the southernmost city for tournaments and city leagues. The ABC, founded in 1895, had a "white males only" membership. The WIBC was founded in 1916 for white women.

In 1949, the NAACP was considering challenging the membership clauses of both organizations with lawsuits. In addition to the restricted membership, no tournaments were played in southern locations beyond Louisville until after the organizations were integrated in 1950.

The NNBA was an African American bowling organization that was established in Detroit, MI, in 1939. Initially, the majority of its members were from Detroit, Chicago, and Cleveland. By 1942, there were more than 300 teams in city leagues in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and Louisville. The membership continued to grow, and in 1944 the name was changed to The National Bowling Association (TNBA) with the membership was opened to all persons. [This was a completely separate organization from the previously named National Bowling Association founded in 1875 and based in New York with a whites only membership.]

Today the TNBA is one of the three major associations for amateur bowlers in the United States.

For more see J. H. Rigali and J. C. Walter, "The Integration of the American Bowling Congress: the Buffalo experience," Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, vol. 29, no. 2 (July 2005), pp. 7ff.; The Unlevel Playing Field, by D. K. Wiggins and P. B. Miller; Organizing Black America, by N. Mjagkij; and A Hard Road to Glory, by A. Ashe, Jr.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Early Bowling Associations & Louisville, KY,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 15, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-03-15 16:27:16