The John H. and Martha Daniels Collection comprises a lifetime of sporting book collecting; it is the National Sporting Library & Museum’s largest and most prominent rare books collection. A portion of the Daniels Collection was donated to the Library from 1995 to 1997, with the rest of the titles coming to NSLM following the construction of a new Library building in 1999.
The John H. Daniels Collection contains a vast variety of sporting titles, the earliest of which dates to 1523. Highlights of the collection include a handwritten manuscript on foxhunting by Theodore Roosevelt, 90 different editions of Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler, signed books by cowboy author-artist Will James, color plate books by British sporting artist Henry Alken. The collection’s rare titles are housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, and are available for research access by appointment. The many non-rare books in the collection are housed in the Library’s Main Reading Room, and are available to researchers during normal Library hours.
A Sportsman and Collector of Books
John Hancock “Jack” Daniels (1921-2006) was a man who loved sport and all books connected with it. A voracious book collector and active sportsman, Daniels was a longtime supporter of the National Sporting Library & Museum, and its mission. He served on the NSLM Board of Directors from 1987 to 2004, and was an honorary member from 2004 until his death in 2006.
Daniels was MFH of the Camden Hunt (S.C.), and co-founded and served as Joint-MFH of the Long Lake Hounds (Minn.), and the Old Stonington Hunt (Ill.). He was on the boards of the Carolina and Colonial Cup steeplechases and the National Steeplechase Museum. He was a 1942 graduate of Yale, where he captained the Yale polo team; he continued to play and follow polo after his graduation. Daniels was president and later CEO of Archer Daniels Midland, Inc., headquartered in Minnesota, until his retirement in 1972.
Daniels collected sporting books on many topics: fly fishing, foxhunting, horsemanship, veterinary medicine, shooting, dogs, coaching, sporting art, dueling and many others. His collection includes manuscripts by Irish authors Edith Somerville and Martin Ross, and a collection of correspondence from sporting artist Sir Alfred Munnings. The 5,000-volume collection, which represents more than 30 years of careful acquisition, doubled NSLM’s book collections upon its donation in 1999.
Daniels had a passion for learning and study, and his legacy continues in the form of NSLM’s John H. Daniels Fellowship Program. This program provides opportunities for researchers to access the unique and rare materials in NSLM’s collections for the purpose of conducting original research for scholarly publication. Daniels Fellows travel to NSLM from across the globe, and research through the Fellowship Program has contributed to #1 New York Times Bestseller The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts, Dorothy Ours’ Battleship, and many other book and article publications.
Daniels was the author of several books, including his 1999 book, Affectionately H: A Tribute to Helen Burt Hennessey. Affectionately H compiles 20 years of letters between Daniels and one of his favorite booksellers, telling the story of the development of the collection and the thrill of the chase for a title.