University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

The Joyce Sports Research Collection

Four-color lithographic poster of the professional wrestler Wladek Zbyszko. 1921. From the Jack Pfefer Collection.

The Department’s Joyce Sports Research Collection is an internationally recognized resource for scholarly inquiry into the history, sociology, economics, and culture of American sports, and their antecedents abroad. Related subject areas supported by the collection include physical culture, health and exercise, recreation, leisure, and sports literature and journalism. The most prevalent formats are books, periodicals, printed ephemera, photographs, and manuscripts; most items predate the 1970s.

The Joyce Collection’s rare book component, numbering upwards of 3000 volumes, includes many of the field’s scarce and seminal titles. The earliest imprints are continental; those of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are most commonly British, while later books are in the main American. 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 American titles of the mid to later twentieth century. 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 U.S. from the later nineteenth century. There are, for example, more than 18,000 college football game programs predating 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 many significant manuscript groups (the largest being the 100-cubic-foot Jack Pfefer Wrestling Collection) and several collections of photographs. Among the subject areas especially well represented in the Joyce Collection are boxing, wrestling, baseball, American football, basketball, billiards, and golf.

The Joyce Collection has been assembled over the past fifty 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 extensive inventory of the Los Angeles sports publications dealer Goodwin Goldfaden. The collection was endowed by the university in 1987, in honor of Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Notre Dame's longtime executive vice president.

Finding Aids to Joyce Collection Materials

Most books and periodicals in the Joyce Collection may be searched in the Hesburgh Libraries Online Catalog (ALEPH). In addition, researchers interested in baseball, basketball, boxing, American football, ice hockey, or wrestling may consult the resource guides that have been compiled for each of these subject areas, linked to at left. These guides provide finding aids to some kinds of materials--especially printed ephemera like media guides, yearbooks, and programs--not currently accessible in ALEPH. Finally, researchers interested specifically in sports-related manuscript collections (hand- and typewritten texts, scrapbooks, photographs, and other formats) may consult the Sports Manuscripts pages dedicated to these kinds of materials.