From its inception, the NSL was built on the sporting book collections of its founders and subsequent donors evolving to become the steward of over 26,000 books from the 16th century to the 21st.
The National Sporting Library was founded in 1954 by George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., president of the Orange County Hunt, Alexander Mackay-Smith, editor of The Chronicle of the Horse, Lester Karow of Savannah, and Fletcher Harper, MFH Orange County. In 1955, George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. took over leadership of the board of directors and served for 50 years.
From its inception, the NSL was built on the sporting book collection of its founders and subsequent donors and has evolved to become an exceptional resource. It was organized by Mackay-Smith as a non-circulating research library open to scholars, journalists, and casual visitors alike.
Original exhibitions are created in the Library exploring both the depth and the range of the 24,000 volume book collection. Literature, art and ephemera are combined to illustrate themes of interest to scholars and the general public. Visit the Forrest E. Mars, Sr. Exhibit Hall. Read about the current exhibition.
Over the years, the Library has been the recipient of several significant book collections including:
The F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room houses 16th-century volumes on classical equitation, the first edition (1653) of Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler (with 90 subsequent editions), early American shooting and fishing books, and rare volumes of sporting art. The oldest book in the collection was published in 1523.
The Library is strong in fiction, with works by Will James, R.S. Surtees, Irish writers Edith Somerville, Martin Ross and others. In addition, it houses private collections such as the papers of Harry Worcester Smith, sportsman, author, and Masters of Foxhounds Association founder. There are collections of early American sporting periodicals, including The Spirit of the Times and The American TurfRegister and Sporting Magazine.
The Library has an online catalog of books, periodicals. There is an annual duplicate book sale held in the fall and a Book Fair held during the Hunt Country Stable Tour in the spring.
For more information, browse the following:
Library Services Read
This is the National Sporting Library Read.
Treasures of the Rare Book Room Read.