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University Libraries of Notre Dame

The Rev. Edmund P. Joyce CSC, Sports Research Collection, Department of Special Collections, University Libraries

Collection Profile

The University Libraries' Joyce Sports Research Collection is an extensive body of books, periodicals, printed ephemera, and other formats dedicated to American sports and physical culture, and their antecedents abroad. Most materials pre-date the mid-20th century. The book collection, numbering upwards of 3,000 volumes, includes many of the field's scarce and seminal titles, from the physician Girolamo Mercuriale's treatise on physical culture in classical antiquity (De arte gymnastica, 1573) to Walter Camp's introduction to a game newly popular on the campuses of the Northeast (American Football, 1892). The collection's hundreds of periodical titles range from the earliest of all sports journals (the Sporting Magazine, published in London from 1792 to 1871) to the four mid-20th-century American magazines named, confusingly, Sports Illustrated (three of which were short-lived, and are today quite scarce). But perhaps the greatest strength of the Joyce Collection lies in its tens of thousands of pieces of printed ephemera-record books, rulebooks, media guides, yearbooks, programs, scorecards, catalogs, and the like. Many of these items were published by colleges and universities, or by franchises in the professional sports leagues that flourished in the United States from the late 19th century. There are, for example, more than 18,000 college football game programs pre-dating 1970, and more than 3,500 professional football programs from the same era. The Joyce Collection also comprises a smaller, but substantial, amount of non-printed matter, including several significant manuscript collections and an important collection of boxing photographs. It should be added that the collection as a whole is notable not just for its breadth but for its depth; several of the sport-specific sub-collections that make up the Joyce are of national stature, including those dedicated to boxing, wrestling, American football, billiards, and golf.

The Joyce Collection has been assembled over the last 40 years, the product of dozens of important donations as well as purchases large and small. Much of the present collection was culled from the purchase, in 1977, of the full inventory of the Los Angeles sports publications dealer Goodwin Goldfaden, which totaled around 30,000 books and 300,000 additional pieces of printed matter. In 1987 the university endowed the collection in honor of Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, CSC, Notre Dame's longtime executive vice president. This endowment, and another funded by John and Dessa Campbell, allows for the collection's continued growth and development.

The idea, in the 1960s, to develop a general sports collection at Notre Dame was in several ways prescient. For one thing, it anticipated the subsequent decade's new interest in the application of scholarly methodologies to the study of sports. And the collectors' market for sports-related publications boomed in the 1980s, after the greater part of the existing collection had been acquired. Today, the Joyce Collection stands as an important resource for scholars, journalists, filmmakers, and collectors researching the history, sociology, economics, and culture of American sports. Those interested in learning more of the collection may consult the finding aids and exhibits located on the Web.

Collection Profile and Overview: George Rugg
Illustrations: Sara Weber

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