Guide to the Research Collections

- Collecting Policy

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.