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First Posted: March 12, 2007
Oct 11, 2011

The National Sporting Library

by Debora Johnson

It was a lovely Friday afternoon in March. The sun was finally bright, the snow was melting, the Arctic clippers had moved on, and we had just finished a wonderful brisk ride on the horses. Hungry and feeling energized, we decided to go to Middleburg for lunch (Market Salamander) and then to the National Sporting Library. I have been wanting to do an article on this fabulous resource. The following is taken from a handout at the library entitled, "This Is the National Sporting Library." It is a direct quote and most informative. Read and enjoy. The pictures were taken by my husband, Bill. I must give you words of caution, however.

CAUTION: Do not take pictures in the library itself. There is nothing to indicate that photographs are prohibited. Ask if and where you may take pictures before doing so.

History of the National Sporting Library

"The National Sporting Library, a research center for turf and field sports, is an incomparable collection of 13,000 books, periodicals, photographs, films and manuscripts housed in a magnificent 15,000 square-foot facility. Paintings and sculptures by renowned sporting artists enhance the spacious Founders' Room, the John and Martha Daniels Reading Room, and the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room.

Founded in 1954 by George L. Ohrstrom Sr., a businessman and president of the Orange County Hunt, and Alexander Mackay-Smith MFH, editor of The Chronicle of the Horse, the idea of the Library was suggested by Ohrstrom's fox hunting friend, Lester Karow of Georgia, to preserve the culture and literature of sport. Ohrstrom enlisted the help of Fletcher Harper, MFH of Orange County, and Mackay-Smith to develop a sporting library of breadth and depth.

Unfortunately, Ohrstrom passed away the following year, but his son, George L. Ohrstrom Jr., assumed leadership and has been the guiding force behind the Library's 50-year history. Mackay-Smith served as the first director from 1954 until 1991 and was succeeded by Peter Winants through 1998.

In the late 1990's, a modern facility was designed and built to house the growing collection. The catalyst for the new building was the donation of John and Martha Daniels's spectacular 5,000-volume collection of sporting books. Previous important donations have included the extraordinary 205-volume Hunersdorf Collection given by the Ohrstrom Foundation, 102 books from the estate of Harry T. Peters MFH and the famed Huth-Lonsdale Library by Russell Arundel and his family.

The opening of the Library's new home in 1999 ushered in a new and exciting era. Under the leadership of NSL Director Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the Library offered stimulating sporting art and rare book exhibitions in the Forrest E. Mars Sr. Exhibit Hall, fascinating and educational lectures on sporting topics, and the opportunity to view screenings of films and live equestrian events in the Founders' Room-events that continue to be important aspects of NSL life.

The Library welcomes researchers and provides reference and OCLC Interlibrary Loan services, a quarterly newsletter and an annual duplicate book sale.

The NSL, a 501(c)3 corporation, receives financial support from contributions by generous donors and an international membership. More information on the Library and its catalog is found at www.nsl.org."National Sporting Library


This statue is in memory of the one and one half million horses and mules that were wounded or died during the Civil War. It is absolutely moving and is displayed in the most beautiful way. The photograph below is a close-up of the engraved plaque of this statue.

Mr. Fox also brings smiles to visitors as he takes his place on the stone fence. While we were there he was carefully studying his shadow!

For More Information:

Snowman Champion Show Jumper (Horse)
Horse's Role in Civil War
In the Blacksmith Shop Exhibit the Sporting Library Middleburg, VA
Horse's Role in Civil War

Places to See