Guest Post: A New Home for Sporting Heritage Preservation

Jim Casada came to the National Sporting Library & Museum in 2014 for a John H. Daniels Fellowship. Mr. Casada writes the books column for Sporting Classics. He wrote a wonderful article about NSLM and his fellowship in the latest issue of the magazine. Mr. Casada will be returning to the NSLM for a lecture and book signing on July 7, 2015. This is a preview of Mr. Casada’s article. You can read the whole article at Sporting Classics Daily

During the summer of 2014 I received a John H. Daniels Research Fellowship at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) in Middleburg, Virginia. The fellowship supported my research toward producing a biography of Archibald Rutledge, longtime poet laureate of South Carolina and possibly the most prolific outdoor writer of the 20th century.

My time, however, at the NSLM involved appreciably more than delving into their first-rate Rutledge holdings. Simply put, my fellowship tenure in Middleburg was an eye- opening, enchanting experience involving an excellent collection with unlimited potential for growth. The library is constantly expanding its holdings and is already a significant research center in a number of fields, but it has the potential to become the focal point for the study of America’s sporting past.

Books shelved in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.
Books shelved in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

Many years ago Yale University had a golden opportunity to become such a repository, thanks to alumnus Charles A. Sheldon, who died in 1930 and left the university his impressive personal library of sporting literature. Sadly, Yale did not seize the momentum offered by the acquisition of Sheldon’s thousands of books, pamphlets, bulletins, and long runs of sporting magazines. More than four-score years have passed, yet there is no evidence that the university has made any effort to expand or update the Sheldon collection. Had they done so, the Ivy League institution would now have a magnificent holding of inestimable potential for anyone researching subjects relating to conservation, hunting, fishing, and life outdoors.

Fortunately, the Sheldon collection is covered fully and is the sole listing in John Phillips’ Bibliography of American Sporting Books, 1582–1925, published shortly after Sheldon’s death in 1930. And in 1997 Meadow Run Press, now an inactive sporting publisher I hope to cover in a future column, brought out a continuation of the Phillips bibliography with M. L. Biscotti’s A Bibliography of American Sporting Books, 1926-1985. Together, the pair forms a logical starting point for anyone wanting to take a comprehensive look at the evolution of American sporting literature. They also offer a solid roadmap for creating a truly comprehensive collection of works on American sport—no such holding, outside of the Library of Congress, presently exists.

Books from the Meadow Run Press shelved in the Main Reading Room.
Books from the Meadow Run Press shelved in the Main Reading Room.

Perhaps it is just as well. In today’s world, the ivory tower and the hunter’s ethos are seldom ideal soulmates—although such was not always the case. Consider the life of Theodore Roosevelt for example. Indeed, in many parts of current academia, even in fields of study such as wildlife biology, a distinct anti-hunting bias prevails.

Read the rest of this article at Sporting Classics Daily

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