Frequently, reference questions offer tantalizing tangents utterly unrelated to the original question.  I recently pulled a book called The Hare (1896), from the Fur and Feather series edited by Alfred E. T. Watson, for a visitor that was interested in information on coursing.   In addition to information about hare hunting, this book includes a section on Cookery.  Interesting and practical!

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The Fur and Feather series edited by Alfred E. T. Watson (1895-1896)

In his introduction to the series Mr. Watson says, “Each volume of the present series will, therefore, be devoted to a bird or beast, and will be divided into three parts.  The Natural History of the variety will first be given ; it will then be considered from the point of view of sport ; and the writer of the third division will assume that the creature has been carried to the larder, and will proceed to discuss it gastronomically.” (The Hare, Preface page v.)

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The Hare: Natural History by H. A. Macpherson ; Shooting by Gerald Lascelles ; Coursing by Charles Richardson ; Hunting by J. S. Gibbons and G. H. Longman ; Cookery by Kenney Herbert. c1896. The gift of Dr. Timothy Greenan.

Intrigued by the possibilities of 1896 cookery, I leafed through hare cookery only to stumble across this line, “The only meat I know which might be taken for hare is that of the porcupine, not only in flavour and closeness of grain, but also in appearance, ‘which the blacknesse thereof convinceth,’ for, contrary to the general impression, it is not white.  A young porcupine about half-grown is really a delicacy.” (p. 262).

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Porcupine.  Image via The Animal Rescue Site

Really?  Porcupine meat was so commonly consumed that it could be used as a reference to describe hare?  I suppose the porcupine, trundling along through the woods, would be a lot easier to catch than the speedy hare but even so it seems like the porcupine would be the exotic meal, not the hare.

On to the cookbooks for further research!  NSLM has quite a few modern day, game cookbooks which I perused looking for porcupine recipes.

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Pennsylvania Game Cookbook edited by Bob Bell (1979) ; The Derrydale Game Cook Book by Louis Pullig De Gouy (c1934, 1950) ; Wild fare & wise words : recipes and writing from the great outdoors edited by Jim and Ann Casada (2005) ; The NAHC Wild Game Cookbook edited by Bill Miller et. al. (1991)

Next to the expected recipes for pheasant and venison, I did indeed find quite a few recipes for porcupine!  I also found preparations for a whole host of other critters that I didn’t realize people ate outside of survival situations.  Items on the menu include, crow, fox, groundhog, muskrat, opossum, and raccoon.  Recipes are generally preceded by tips on the appropriate dressing and handling of game.  This is especially critical to those of us who have only cooked with prepared, packaged meat from the grocery store.  The recipes themselves cover a wide range of preparations and, for the most part, sound pretty tasty.  It’s interesting to consider the culturally determined rules governing what is considered food and what isn’t.

Just as I was turning away from the cookbook shelf, I noticed a bright green cover and made the mistake of pulling it out for a look.  In my hands was, The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director by Richard Bradley, originally published in 1736.

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The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director by Richard Bradley, c1736, 1980.

Of course I couldn’t resist checking out what cooks were up to in 1736.  On a positive note, they were very thrifty and what we would call “green.”  They used EVERYTHING.  However, here’s a short list of some less savory tidbits from back in the day:  Recipes for “Viper-Soup from Mr. Ganeau” (p. 149-150), for “Calf’s-Head Pie” (p. 158-159),  how “To Prepare the Caviar, or Spawn of the Sturgeon” (p. 23),  and “The Manner of Pickling and Drying of Sheeps Tongues, or Hogs Tongues, which they call Stags Tongues, from a celebrated practioner of forty years standing in London” (p. 27).

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Badger, a nice sweet meat! Image via The Animal Rescue Site

I also found out that, “The badger is one of the cleanest creatures, in its food, of any in the world, and one may suppose that the flesh of this creature is not unwholesome.  It eats like the finest pork, and is much sweeter than pork” (p. 145).

Ugh, maybe I’ll stick with the porcupine.

If you would like some fresh ideas on cooking game I’d be happy to show you our cookbooks any time.  They contain many ideas for preparing game fowl, as well as both large, and small game.  Alternatively, if you’d like to challenge Anthony Bourdain and his Parts Unknown show to a time traveling episode, I have a cookbook that’ll be just the thing!


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Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact Erica by e-mail

Many readers may not realize it, but the vast majority of the books at the National Sporting Library have been donated to us.  We rarely purchase titles.  In 1954, two of our founders, Alexander Mackay-Smith and George L. Ohrstrom Sr., pooled their personal libraries to create the National Sporting Library.  Since then the collection has grown and evolved through donations both large and small from the community.

The library today is a reflection of the interests of the sporting community.  We have books, both scholarly and for the layperson, on a large variety of equine topics, as well as on art, angling, hunting, wingshooting, hounds, firearms, biography, and general sporting.  The sporting community has a long tradition of poking fun at itself and as such, you will also find humorous books on our shelves.

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John Tickner, Horse & Hound Magazine, 6 March 1997, pg. 12

John Tickner (1913-1997) was a prolific writer and cartoonist.  He is probably best known for his weekly cartoon in Horse & Hound magazine where he worked for twenty years.  In addition, he also wrote and illustrated numerous lighthearted books on horses, riding, and country life.

Here at NSLM we have ten volumes by Tickner and one compilation of his Horse & Hound cartoons.

tickner-booksTickner’s Dog Licence (1957), Tickner’s Light Horse (1958), Tickner’s Show Piece (1958), Tickner’s Horse Encyclopaedia (1960), To Hounds with John Tickner (1962), Tickner’s Pub (1965), Tickner’s Rural Guide (1967), Tickner’s Hunting Field (1970), Tickner’s Terriers (1977), Tickner’s Ponies (1991, c1966), and Tickner’s Horse & Hound (1997).

Here’s a closer look at Tickner’s Horse Encyclopaedia (1960).

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John Tickner, 1960.

Under A…

Accident: “An accident is an awful thing when it is happening to you but, if you happen to survive it – and quite a few horse persons do – it gives you a wonderful opportunity to bore everyone you meet for weeks, months and even years.”

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Tickner’s Horse Encyclopaedia, by John Tickner, 1960, pg. 7.

Under C…

Colour: “The colour of horses is one of the most useful topics of conversation if you wish to trap people who pretend to know about horses into revealing that they don’t.  All horses are a colour and some horses are several.  The essential thing to know is that a horse is hardly ever the colour it appears to be.”

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Tickner’s Horse Encyclopaedia by John Tickner, 1960, pg. 29

And under M…

Mount: “The most spectacular way of mounting (see films and television) is to leap from a balcony.  This is frightfully spectacular and is most spectacular when the horse moves off just as the mounting person is in the middle of leaping from the balcony.”

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Tickner’s Horse Encyclopaedia by John Tickner, 1960, pgs. 68-69.

All of Tickner’s books are light, comical, and quick reads.  If you’re looking for a way to spend a cold winter afternoon, I encourage you to drop by the main reading room and settle into one of our comfy couches or chairs and have a laugh or two with John Tickner.


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Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact Erica by e-mail

In the past week or so my cataloging project has reached the hunting section of our collection.  While the bulk of the books in this section are about fox hunting, there is a subset on… beagling.  Beagling?  At this point it will be obvious to those in the know, that I don’t have a background in sporting pursuits.  However, since I joined the NSLM staff last spring I’ve been learning quite a lot, much of it through skimming the books as I work with them and from my coworkers, but also a great deal from visitors to the library.  It turns out beagling is hare hunting using a pack of beagles with the field following behind on foot.

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Thoughts on Beagling (1938)

For more information I pulled Peter Wood’s, Thoughts on Beagling (1938), off the shelf.  He discusses the ideal conformation for beagles.  In his opinion, “Anyone who wishes to go steady should hunt with a 14-inch pack, at which size the pace of the hounds should generally be compatible with the capabilities of the followers.  Those who feel fit, energetic, and full of running should hunt with a 15- or 16-inch pack, which will give them, if there is a scent, all the exercise they can wish for.”  He describes the hunting year for beagling which includes rest and showing in the spring, increasing levels of exercise and training over the summer, and hunting September through March.  The staff of the hunt is introduced.  The roles of the Master, the Huntsman, and the Whippers-In are explained.  He also offers general guidance on appropriate behavior for members of the field following the pack.

Wood’s book stands out for me because of its lovely illustrations by Thomas Ivester Lloyd, a lifelong hunter and one time Master of the Sherington Foot Beagles.  His drawings clearly transmit a love of the sport.  Looking at his pictures, it is easy to imagine tramping along with the rest of the field, chasing after the hounds on a crisp, cold day.

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Thoughts on Beagling (1938)

 

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Thoughts on Beagling (1938)

 

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Thoughts on Beagling (1938)

 

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Thoughts on Beagling (1938)

I have been enjoying learning about sporting and equestrian topics as I work with NSLM’s collection.  If you’d like to learn more too, please drop in and see me in the main reading room.  The collection includes volumes on equestrian sports, hunting, wing shooting, and angling.  We have books on sporting art and a large selection of biographies detailing the life and times of sporting personalities past and present.


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Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact Erica by e-mail

The museum has recently opened a new exhibition, The Chronicle of the Horse in Art, comprising art that has been featured on the cover of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.  The library has ties to this exhibition on several levels.  First, one of our founders, Alexander Mackay-Smith was also a long time editor of The Chronicle.  Second, our two organizations have shared space over the years.  The library was in the basement of the Chronicle’s offices until the current buildings were constructed.  Although we no longer share the same building, we are still on the same campus.  Finally, the library houses an extensive backfile of The Chronicle.

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George Stubbs (English, 1724–1806), Shark with his Trainer Price, dated 1775 (detail), oil on canvas, 40 1/8 x 50 1/8 inches, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Paul Mellon Collection Photo: Katherine Wetzel © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

It turns out, there is yet another connection.  We have a children’s book in which one of the characters is shown reading a copy of The Chronicle.  It’s called Welcome Home!, by Ludwig Bemelmans.  Many readers will be familiar with this author and illustrator through his popular Madeline series of books.

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The story is based on a poem by Beverley Bogert and describes the Gallant Hunt riding to the Holiday Hounds.

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They chase the fox but he cleverly evades them.

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Mr. Fox ends the day safe and comfy in his den surrounded by his family.

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Welcome Home! by Ludwig Bemelmans, 1959.

The cover of The Chronicle of the Horse is quite distinctive.  It has an elaborate masthead and border which frame the featured artwork.  It is unique enough to make an issue of The Chronicle easily recognizable even at a distance.

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The Chronicle of the Horse, May 7, 1965

In the final scene of Welcome Home!, we see Mr. Fox relaxing in his bed, reading what is clearly an issue of The Chronicle.

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Welcome Home! by Ludwig Bemelmans, 1959

Our copy of Welcome Home! also has a letter from Ludwig Bemelmans’ daughter, Barbara, to Alexander Mackay-Smith, in which she conveys her father’s thanks for being allowed to use the image of The Chronicle in his book, and gifts him a copy.

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Barbara Bemelmans, 1959

And eventually that same book was donated to the library and can now be viewed by anyone that cares to stop by the Main Reading Room.  I encourage you to do so!


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Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact Erica by e-mail

One of the things I love about working with the NSLM collection is how frequently really interesting things pop up where you don’t expect them. Recently I was cataloging a book and found a large photo stuffed inside the pages. At first glance I thought it was of a horse-drawn carriage but closer inspection revealed the carriage was in fact being pulled by six camels!

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The caption pasted to the back of the photo gives the following information:

Viceroy’s visit to Lahore.

During their recent visit to Lahore Lord and Lady Willingdon attended the races.  This picture shows their Excellencies arriving at the entrance to the grandstand in the picturesque camel carriage of the Governor of the Punjab, Sir Geoffrey de Montmorency, who is seen greeting them on arrival.  The escort of Indian cavalry in the background preceded the state carriage on the journey.

These people are certainly arriving in style!  They are riding in a spacious carriage…

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Drawn by six camels…  The camels and their riders all decked out in the full kit.  Note the leopard pelts decorating each camel’s hump.camels-2

Escorted by a column of impressive Indian cavalry…

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And being greeted by their host as well as a large group of onlookers…

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The thing that strikes me is that despite its exotic qualities, the scene is familiar.  We regularly see celebrities arriving at events in a very similar fashion.  Instead of a coach they emerge from sleek limousines or town cars. Politicians favor travel in convoys of black SUVs with blacked out windows. We are so accustomed to seeing these special modes of transport that when a prominent figure opts for a more normal vehicle it can be big news. Last year the Pope caused a sensation by traveling around cities in the United States in a regular Fiat!

The cavalry escort serves to demonstrate the power and importance of the carriage occupants in addition to providing them with protection. This sort of escort today is largely limited to political figures.  I’m sure the cavalry was just as intimidating in their day as the speeding black SUVs and motorcycle escorts of today. They serve the same function but I think it’s safe to say the Indian cavalry carried out the duty with a bit more panache!

Today the carriage itself is an exotic mode of transportation regardless of who rides in it, what sort of animals pull it, or whether or not it is escorted.  To find out more about carriages join us here at NSLM on Saturday July 23 from 10:00 to 5:00, for Carriage Day, a free community event featuring over 20 historic and refurbished carriages from the Piedmont Driving Club and Colonial Williamsburg.

Sorry, no camels!

Walking through the rare book room recently a title jumped out at me.  Boldly printed in gold on a dark blue spine was the title, Dog Prints.  Being a big fan of dogs and actually preferring to see people’s dog photos, I pulled the book off the shelf to take a look.  It is a collection of 89 engravings of dogs dated from 1792 to 1835.  Nearly all of the engravings are portraits depicting individual named dogs.  About half are accompanied by brief comments outlining the pictured dog’s lineage, accomplishments, ownership, or sharing an interesting anecdote about the dog.  Breeds pictured include greyhounds, harriers, pointers, foxhounds, spaniels, terriers, setters, beagles, bulldogs, staghounds, and deerhounds.

Here are three that I especially enjoyed.

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“Pincher is the property of Mr. Cooper, the painter, for whom his attachment was extraordinary; he frequently gave him away, but to whatever distance he was taken, he speedily returned: at length his master met with an accident which proved fatal to him, and his body falling into the hands of strangers, no one could force the affectionate animal from him, until his son made his appearance, and many were bitten in attempting to remove him, not knowing it was his dog.   S.M. Nov. 1811”

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“Drake, a water-spaniel, the property of Lord Charles Kerr.  In the month of August 1813, Lord Charles made a match with J. Cock, Esq. Jun., to play a game of Cricket, His Lordship backing his servant James Bridger and his dog Drake, against Mr. Cock with Wm. Witherell.  The match which was for 50 guineas per side, was played at Hold Pound Cricketing Ground, near Farnham, Surry, on Monday, August 16th, 1813.  The post assigned to Drake was that of catching the ball, the only way in which he could be serviceable, but, as he always caught it at the first bound, he was perhaps a more expert and efficient partner than many Bipeds.    S.M. August 1814”

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“The canine landing net.  The late Mr. S. Burnes of Tooley Street, Southwark, well known as an excellent shot, was likewise one of the best fly-fishers in the kingdom.  He had a pointer dog, called Old York, who frequently was his most orderly companion in that sport, and if a very heavy fish had entangled itself in the weeds, or the bank was particularly unfavourable, Old York would go in, and taking the fish behind the head, bring it out to his master, unbruised, and generally without breaking the tackle.    S.M. May 1819”

The book itself is a bit of a mystery.  There’s no publication information in it.  No compiler or date of creation is listed.  Looking more closely at the engravings I noted that they were all published by either, J. Wheble, J. Wheble & J. Pittman, or J. Pittman, all of Warwick Square, London.  The commentary that accompanies many of the engravings is credited to S.M. and dated with a month and year, and one or two of these comments mention “this magazine.”  A quick internet search turned up the book A Dictionary of Printers and Printing by C.H. Timperley which had a brief biography of John Wheble who published the magazine Sporting Magazine.  Luckily NSLM has this magazine in our Main Reading Room, and I was able to confirm that the material in Dog Prints is indeed from that publication.

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At this point however, I’m at a dead end.  I would guess that Dog Prints was compiled and privately printed by an individual.  It has certainly been customized by an individual as the engravings are numbered by hand and it has a handwritten index.  There is also a clipping from a newspaper or magazine pasted into the book next to the index.  It is a letter from a Mr. Grantley Berkeley to the Committee of the Society for the Suppression of Cruelty to Animals.  Although no publication information is visible on the article, there is an ad with the date June 1839 on its reverse.

Beyond these bits of information one may only speculate on the origin of this book.  Regardless of its origins, Dog Prints is a lovely collection of engravings well worth looking at.  I would encourage readers to come to the library and peruse our copies of Sporting Magazine available in the reading alcoves in our Main Reading Room.  This periodical contains all the engravings in Dog Prints as well as numerous others featuring a variety of sporting subjects.  Dog Prints itself is housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.


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Erica Libhart has served as the Mars Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact Erica by e-mail

Lionel Edwards (1878-1966) was a British painter and illustrator who focused primarily on scenes of sporting life (we have highlighted some of his work on our blog in the past). He was an avid huntsman and over the course of his life hunted with most of the packs in the United Kingdom. In his book, The Wiles of the Fox, Edwards gives us a series of anecdotes accompanied by sketches, which describe exploits he has witnessed foxes use to escape the hounds.

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The Wiles of the Fox: Some Notes and Sketches Sketches by Lionel Edwards. London: The Medici Society and The Sporting Gallery, 1932. National Sporting Library & Museum, gift of John H. Daniels, 1994.

The contest in a fox hunt is between the hounds’ ability to follow the fox’s scent, and the fox’s ability to elude them.  At first glance it seems an unfair battle, an entire pack of hounds versus a single fox.  But in the foreword of his book Edwards estimates that only one in five foxes discovered by hounds is caught.  He goes on to praise the fox’s skill saying…

“Granting that few foxes are killed in comparison to those found by hounds, there are other people besides my Todhunter who have difficulty in realizing that catching a fox is not as easy as it sounds.  A huntsman, from youth and inexperience, conceit or old age, or a hundred other causes, often contributes to his own defeat, and the fact remains that among the many partners of the chase, the only one who makes few errors is usually the fox!” (p.7-8)

The stories fall into several categories.  First are tricks that hide or confuse the fox’s scent trail.  Whether or not the fox realizes the effect of such maneuvers and engages in them intentionally is up for speculation.  These activities include things such as…

Running along the tops of walls:

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On the Top of the Wall

Escaping along roads:

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Fox Running the Road

Or rolling in manure:

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Manure

Sometimes foxes escape through outside assistance. This could make use of other animals to distract the hounds, or when a second fox’s scent confuses the hounds into losing track.

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Changing foxes

A final type of escape relies on the fox’s natural agility, which allows it to sometimes bolt through a pack of hounds unscathed or sail over them from the top of a bank.

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Flying Fox

If you would like to learn more about Edward’s life and work, NSLM holds many examples of his illustrations, as well as several biographies about him. Foxes are known for being crafty, and animals can often surprise us with their behavior. Leave us a comment below to share your surprising animal stories with us!


 

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Erica Libhart has served as the MarsLibrarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2016. The focus of her position is collection services, working to increase accessibility to NSLM’s collection of books, periodicals, and archival materials. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact Erica by e-mail