Social Science blog

07 January 2011

New year; new section


New  year; new section on the Sport & Society website. As blogged on the seventh of December, we now have a history section ( with an inaugural article on William Penny Brookes and the Much Wenlock games by Steph Doehler who completed her MA in Sport History & Culture at De Montfort University last year. Steph tells me that she did an enormous amount of research for this article (which is part of a much longer piece of work which she did for her MA dissertation). Her bibliography, which appears at the end of her article, shows how many primary sources she had to use, many of which were in the Much Wenlock archive held in the Mayor of Wenlock’s office. As she says, not surprisingly: “it took a lot of organisation to access the archives!”

 Popular and ubiquitous as sport is, accessing the research resources you need is not always straightforward. Sport and its institutions are fragmented, and there are numerous possible locations for sports resources like minutes of meetings, programmes, records, statistics and so on. Some organisations and individuals will have been assiduous in keeping things, or passing them on to other repositories; others not. So a sports historian often has major difficulties in identifying and then getting hold of the materials that he or she needs. Even in institutions like the BL there is many a slip betwixt cup and lip! In May 1941 a number of incendiary bombs fell on the South West Quadrant of the British Museum Library. The subsequent fire, and the water used to extinguish it, destroyed over 100,000 books in the library stack area affected. Among these were books with shelfmarks in the 7000 series, which included some of the Library’s earliest books on sport, most of which had been obtained through the legal deposit provisions. Many of the destroyed volumes have since been replaced by microfilms of copies from other libraries, but it just goes to show the frustrations that can await the unwary researcher.


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