Guide to the Research Collections



Collecting Policy

The collection of 45,800 volumes and numerous manuscripts covers all sports and amusements with the exception of the theatre, dance, and music. Among the strong features are the holdings on fishing, with a fine collection of Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler; the chess materials centering on the Pfeiffer chess collection; and the baseball resources including the Spalding, Swales, and Goulston collections. These illustrate how individual gifts have enriched and strengthened the Research Libraries; much of the growth in this area since 1941, when the resources numbered 15,000 volumes, can be attributed to donations of specialized collections.

The collecting policy of the Research Libraries calls for comprehensive treatment of bibliography, history, and general works on sports and games; and for all materials relating to specific sports, including baseball, American football, horses and horse racing, fishing, hunting (particularly hunting in Africa and America), hawking and falconry, and among the indoor games, chess. Holdings of American sporting books published before 1860 are generally strong.1

Periodical holdings are strongest for early sporting titles, primarily in English; but files are not always complete. Among these are Sporting Magazine (1792-1860), Annals of Sporting (1822-27), Badminton Magazine (1895-1923), and Baily's Magazine (1860-1926). The library attempts to acquire only a representation of the more significant international titles from the great number of modern periodicals dealing with sports and games, including such publications as Field and Stream (1898-) and Sports Illustrated (1954-). In addition is a large number of sporting club periodicals, yearbooks, and other publications.

Material on the Olympic Games is chiefly made up of official accounts, accounts of the United States Olympic committees, personal accounts, and programmes.

In the special language divisions, the Slavonic Division collects comprehensively in chess and in hunting, and the Oriental Division has much of interest for the study of sports and games in the Near and Far East. Materials in this division include a number of books on ma-ch'iao (Mah-Jongg) dating from the early 1920s, when the game became popular in the United States.

Other classes of materials contribute to this subject, the most obvious being works on description and travel and works on ethnography. A small collection bearing directly on sports and games is included in the section of philosophy which contains materials on the ethical aspects of betting, gambling, and lotteries.

The following alphabetical arrangement describes those collections of materials on sports and games in which the holdings of the Library are strongest.


Although this collection does not appear to be extensive from a count of entries in the Public Catalog, additional material listed under such headings as "Arms and Armor," "Arrow Heads," and "Cross Bow" lends strength to the subject. In addition to entries for books are many index entries for articles in periodicals and learned journals. In 1946 the library acquired the Paul H. Gordon collection of books on archery, which included periodicals and pamphlets; the material in the collection covers the period from the late 1600s to 1946. After that date materials have been added on a representative basis.


The holdings are of considerable importance for a study of this national sport up to approximately the 1930s. They center around three large gifts: the Spalding, Swales, and Goulston collections. Currently the library acquires such periodicals as The Sporting News (1887-), Amateur Baseball News (1960-), and publications of the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs. Baseball yearbooks are also present, such as Baseball Blue Book (1915-), Little Red Book (1926-), and National League Green Book (1935-).

The personal collection of A.G. Spalding came to the library in 1921 as a gift of his widow. Consisting of over 3,000 books and pamphlets, 102 periodicals, more than 560 photographs, and 30 original drawings (17 by Homer Davenport) the collection documents the history of baseball

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from 1845 to about 1914. It contains much material on other sports, such as cricket, most of it in pamphlet form. Spalding had acquired and incorporated the Harry Wright and Henry Chadwick libraries, in themselves notable; the three collections contain extensive manuscript materials.2

In 1929, Mrs. Bradshaw Hall Swales presented the baseball collection formed by her husband, the noted ornithologist.3 The collection is remarkable for its manuscript rosters of the various leagues dating from 1880 to 1926, and for score records and biographical data. With the collection is a twelve-drawer card file arranged alphabetically by name of player giving vital statistics, batting averages, etc. This file is in the general collections, the rosters and other biographical data are in the Manuscripts and Archives Division.

Leopold Morse Goulston presented his collection in memory of Leo J. Bondy, vice-president and treasurer of the New York Giants, in 1946. The collection is largely pictorial but contains a number of early books that make a contribution to a history of the sport, such as By-Laws and Rules of Order of the Takewambait Base Ball Club of Natick, Massachusetts (1858). Most of the 1,000 portraits of baseball players and pictures of old teams are advertisements inserted in cigarette packages of the late 1800s. There are also silver annual passes designed by Charles Dana Gibson and issued by the New York Giants in 1930 and 1931. Some 20 original drawings are by artists who contributed to the early Life and Puck; prints are included, among them some by Currier and Ives.4


Among the items presented by Herbert Bayard Swope in 1951 are early works on boxing, including extremely rare The Fancy; Or True Sportsman's Guide (1826), in two volumes, Pierce Egan's Boxiana (1812-29), and Pancratia: Or A History of Pugilism (1812).5


A fair collection on this sport is perhaps most remarkable for its sets of scarce periodicals, such as La lidia (Mexico, 1943-), El ruedo (Madrid, 1944-), El eco taurino (Mexico, 1928-32), and La fiesta brava (Barcelona, 1926-36).


This section of the library's holdings contains a number of old and modern editions of Hoyle. A strong group of materials on card tricks is to be found in the Ellison and Hooker collections, described fully in chapter 33. Materials on playing card design and history are in the Prints Division and in the general collections. Sets of playing cards in the library, most of which came as gifts, are primarily held in the Rare Book Division. Both the Prints Division and the Spencer Collection have examples of the engravings of Stefano della Bella for Jean Desmarets de Saint Solin's Jeux historiques des rois de France.... The Prints Division has four sets mounted in its della Bella scrapbooks; the Spencer Collection has only the rois and reines. Also in the Prints Division are the sixteenth-century engravings by Ladenspelder made from Italian tarocchi cards. Two sets of playing cards engraved with engineering and mechanical instruments made in early eighteenth-century London are in the Parsons collection in the Science and Technology Research Center.

Chess and Other Board Games

There are about 2,500 entries relating to chess in the Public Catalog, representing an unusually good collection. Significant aspects of the game are chronologically categorized by date of publication. These categories include general books on chess (800 entries), chess problems (280 entries), and chess tournaments (330 entries). The purchase of the Prayer-Goldwater collection of tournament books in the late 1950s strengthened the resources in this area, which now include the following records: London, 1851 and 1862; Hastings, 1895; San Sebastian, 1911 and 1912; and New York, 1924. Books by chess masters and authorities are numerous, including works by Ruy Lopez de Sigura, Philidor (in many editions and translations), William Lewis, and Howard Staunton. Approximately 120 periodical titles cover the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. About 15 titles are currently received from 9 countries, including the Deutsche Schachzeitung (1846-), British Chess Magazine (1881-), and Chess Review (1933-).

Gifts by Gustavus A. Pfeiffer were most important in the development of the chess collection. The first gift, consisting of 590 volumes and 185 pamphlets, came in 1932; it is named in honor of Frank J. Marshall. This group primarily includes works published in the nineteenth century and reprints of earlier titles; chess Americana in the collection is worthy of note. An additional gift of 161 items came the following year. Upon his death in 1953, Pfeiffer made a further bequest of 700 manuscripts, books, scrapbooks, and periodicals, together with funds to be used in developing the chess collection. This final gift included 2 editions of Damiano of Odemira's Libro da imparare giocare a scacchi (Rome, 1525 and Venice, 1564); an anonymous Latin manuscript, probably of the fifteenth century, that contains 132 diagrams of chess problems of which 15 are completed; and about 100 letters of chess masters such as Frank Marshall (10 postcards, 2 letters), Emanuel Lasker (6 letters), William Steinitz (7 letters), and others. Additional chess rarities in the library include 4 fifteenth-century editions of Jacobus de Cessolis, including Caxton's translation The Game and Playe of the Chesse (Bruges, 1476), the second book printed in the English language. Cessolis's work is not a treatise on chess itself, but rather an essay on the moral virtues, with the different pieces used in the game symbolizing the various conditions of life.

The Oriental Division receives 2 periodicals on Chinese chess, Wei Ch'i (Shanghai, 1962-) and Hsiang Ch'i (Canton, 1963-) in addition to a

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Japanese periodical for the board game of go, the Go Monthly Review (1961-). Further book materials in the division refer to these and other Oriental games.


Books of a general nature are included in this collection, as well as books of instruction and books on such related topics as the bayonet, sword exercise, stage fencing, etc. Although there are a number of files of older fencing periodicals in the holdings, only one title is received currently, American Fencing (1954-), in film reproduction. Perhaps most significant in the holdings on fencing are a number of early books of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the Spencer Collection and the Rare Book Division by Salvatore Fabris, Henry de Saint Didier, Angelo Vizani, and others. A related collection on dueling is made up of over 500 volumes ranging from the sixteenth century to the present and including notable seventeenth- to nineteenth-century ordinances, court decisions, laws, and proclamations against dueling in England, Europe, Mexico, and Argentina.


The rich collection on angling in the Research Libraries numbers approximately 2,500 entries in the Public Catalog, with strong sections on bibliography, handbooks, and game laws going back to the earliest periods of American, English, and European history. Fishing periodicals include such standard titles as Field and Stream (1898-), Rod and Gun (1902-), and Skin Diver (1952-).

Early books on fishing are a feature of the holdings; they include the first 5 editions of Izaak Walton's Compleat Angler issued during the author's lifetime (there are about 150 English language editions of this classic in the library) as well as examples of other books which exist in only a few copies, such as John Whitney's Genteel Recreation (1700) and Constantine S. Rafinesque's Ichthyologia Ohiensis (Lexington, Kentucky, 1820). Most of these items came from the Lenox Library and are listed in Contributions to a Catalogue of the Lenox Library no. 7 (1893). The Lenox collection, which included the library of Thomas Westwood,6 numbered about 500 volumes. From 1897 to 1902 the Hon. John L. Cadwalader gave important collections relating to fishing and outdoor sports.7 In 1937 the library received from the Misses Carolyn C. and Louise DeForest Haynes a collection of nearly 100 volumes on salmon fishing, given in memory of their brother.

Related collections in the holdings are described in chapter 62 of this Guide.


Originally the Football heading was used in the catalog of the library to include all games of this type, including Rugby and soccer. At present an attempt is made to separate these games under their individual headings, reserving "Football" for American football. The holdings are strongest for American football, but all types of the game are represented. Histories of the sport and of football clubs, associations, and leagues are included. No particular attempt is made to acquire periodicals. In 1937, Edward Kimball Hall, chairman of the Football Rules Committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, gave to the library reports of the committee, rules, letters and telegrams, and typescripts of periodical articles, contained in 3 boxes in the Manuscripts and Archives Division.

Horses, Horse Racing, and Horse Breeding

This rich collection is covered by about 4,000 entries in the Public Catalog, including long files of studbooks, racing guides, and periodicals, with many early works on equitation, farriery, and similar subjects from the United States and other countries. In 1951, Herbert Bayard Swope presented a valuable collection of 217 volumes, the larger number pertaining to horse racing in America and horse breeding. This gift contains an exceptionally long set of Racing Form; Charts of American Racing (1896-1941) supplemented by Daily Racing Form Chart Books (1942-51), a continuation of which the library currently maintains. In addition are 14 periodicals concerning horses, horse racing, and horsemanship, including El caballo (Buenos Aires, 1935-), Quarter Horse Journal (1953-), Western Horseman (1936-), and Blood Horse (1938-). Studbooks include American Stud Book (1873-), American Morgan Horse Register (1894-), and Arab Horse Stud Book (1919-).

Early works on horses and horsemanship include a number published in sixteenth-century Venice, as well as early English and American items in the Rare Book Division. In the Spencer Collection is George Engelhard von Löhneyss's Della Caualleria (1624), a work on harnesses and saddles, Hans Creutzberger's Eygentliche, wolgerissene Contrafactur und Formen de Gebisz (1591), and other works on horse ballets and related matters in the collection of festival books. The Prints Division has numerous representations of horses and riding by such artists as Dürer, Delacroix, Géricault, and others; also the duke of Newcastle's A General System of Horsemanship (1743).

The papers of Robert Bonner in the Manuscripts and Archives Division relate to the breeding, development, and shoeing of trotting horses between the years 1860 and 1899. Several manuscript stud records include those of Seely's American Star and Eclipse, son of Marske.


The library has a very good collection of material on hunting in general and accounts of particular hunting expeditions;8 there is particular interest in hunting in Africa and in America. As a matter of policy, the library does not collect the finely-illustrated hunting books of the past unless they can be acquired for the Prints Division or the Spencer Collection. In the Arents Collection of Books in Parts are some nineteenth-century

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English sporting books and original drawings of hunting scenes by Henry Alken, John Leech, and others. Important related materials appear under such headings as "Ordnance," "Firearms," and "Munitions."


Lawn tennis materials are the most extensive. For the older games of court tennis and racquets, the library has contemporary works.9

Yachts and Yachting

This collection is particularly strong in periodicals; more than 35 titles are held, including 11 currently received from the United States, England, France, and New Zealand. Among these are A.Y.R.S. Publication (1955-), Les Cahiers du yachting (1967-), The Rudder (1891-), and Sea Spray (1945-). Monographic holdings include sections on yacht cruises and yacht racing.