The history of sport has been preserved for future generations with a 100-year-old skiing collection being housed at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
The Ski Club of Great Britain has partnered with DMU’s Library Special Collections and International Centre for Sports History and Culture to ensure its archive is available to a global audience for many years to come.
The unique collection of books, trophies, artwork and artefacts trace the history of the start and continuing development of winter sports and the Ski Club, which was founded in 1903 as the second oldest snow sports club in the world.
It looks at the development of skiing from a small number of wealthy individuals, through to the rise of the ‘middle classes’ to the popularity of today’s package holidays and independent travellers.
It also examines how the British organised Slalom and downhill races in the Alps and pushed for these new styles to be included in the Winter Olympic Games in the 1930s.
Ian Holt, Treasurer at the Ski Club of Great Britain, said giving the archive the home it deserved was the ‘next chapter’ in the Ski Club’s history.
He said: “It is, without a doubt, one of the most complete histories of the sport in the world.
“We wanted to ensure it was given a safe new home where it would continue to educate and entertain those interested in snow sports and the mountains.
“There really is no better place for the Ski Club archive than the world-renowned centre for archiving sports history at De Montfort University.
“The Ski Club Library will not only be safe for years to come but is now available to a huge new audience.”
The Ski Club, which encourages people to learn how to ski, was founded with just 12 members who signed their names on a menu at the Café Royal in London. It continues to be involved in all aspects of snow sports, from organising races and setting up ski teams, to organising holidays to the Alps.
The collection includes diaries from the first ski tour crossings of the Alps, race results going back over 100 years, discussions in technique, and accounts of polar exploration.
The collection was previously ‘somewhat hidden’ at the Ski Club’s headquarters in southwest London. It is called the ‘Arnold Lunn Library’ in honour of one of the club’s members and a true pioneer in the world of skiing.
Staff at DMU have been working hard to ensure the valuable collection, with several aging and fragile items, is correctly stored, labelled and catalogued. They also plan to digitalise as much of the collection as possible to allow a global audience to access it online.
Professor Martin Polley, DMU’s Director of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, said sports history was one of DMU’s unique academic strengths. The archive will join the DMU’s other sporting collections, such as the Special Olympics and The Amateur Boxing Association.
He said: “We are delighted that the Ski Club’s collection has come to DMU, and we look forward to working with this significant set of materials.
“I firmly believe that we can understand sport better by looking at it in its historical context. Sport sheds light on so much.
“We really value the importance of this archive. As every sports historian knows, if there are no primary sources, there can be no history.”
David Parkes, DMU’s Director of Library and Learning Services, said: “It’s absolutely unique, no other university in the world has this archive. That’s an amazing thing to celebrate.
“This archive will definitely earn its keep. Staff will want to use it and students will be intrigued. We are so grateful for this collection as it goes so well with the rest of our collections especially our sports history archives.”
How the Winter Olympics expanded – and brought growing pains with them
Castle students walk in footsteps of childhood heroes to explore sport heritage in Germany
Cool runnings – Castle students help develop Olympic heritage project
Dr Heather Dichter, DMU’s Associate Professor of Sport Management, said she was already using the collection in her classes and she hoped it would generate further research.
Dr Dichter, who has spoken widely on the growth of the Winter Olympics since it began in 1924, said: “It’s an amazing insight into how skiing and other winter sports have changed so much over the years.
“The students are really excited to be using this collection; they are digging into the archives and learning so much.
“This collection has so many uses and it makes the history of sport more readily available.”
About 50 guests attended the Ski Club of Great Britain and DMU partnership launch at Leicester Castle Business School on Thursday (March 15).
Posted on Monday 19th March 2018