Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)ATH
TitleNational Athletics Archive
Extent553 standard boxes, 8 large boxes, 1 outsize box and 2 glass slide boxes
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DescriptionThe National Athletics Archive comprises an extensive volume of archival materials primarily relating to the history and development of athletics in the United Kingdom throughout the late 19th to early 21st centuries. This material includes records of national organisations administering athletics such as the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA), the Women's Amateur Athletic Association (WAAA), the Sports Council and the English Cross-Country Union (ECCU). There are also records relating to regional organisations including papers of the Midland Counties Amateur Athletic Association (MCAAA), the Midland Counties Women's Amateur Athletic Association (MCWAAA), the Midland Counties Cross-Country Association (MCCCA), the Northern Cross-Country Association (NCCA), the Southern Counties Amateur Athletic Association (SCAAA) and the Southern Counties Cross-Country Association (SCCCA).

In addition to organisational collections, the National Athletics Archive includes various discrete collections of individual athletes and athletics commentators. These include the papers of Arthur Newton, Arthur Winter, Dennis Cullum, Dave Roberts, George Adam, Harold Abrahams, Howard Payne, Joe Binks, John Jewell, Joe Percy, Mel Watman, Phil Thomas and Squire Yarrow.

An artificial collection of ephemeral and grey literature includes an extensive sequence of almost 4,000 programmes, primarily relating to UK athletics meetings; typescript results; compiled statistics; material and ephemera relating to individual local clubs and organisations; papers relating to major athletics championships including the Olympic Games, British Empire and Commonwealth Games, World Championships and European Championships. Oral history recordings, often with accompanying typescript transcripts, feature interviews undertaken with numerous athletes and athletics commentators.

There is a small miscellaneous section comprising letters, the majority of which concerning the publication of athletics books, magazines and articles as well as comments on the accuracy and information contained therein. The collection includes examples of personal correspondence such as manuscript letters from Roger Bannister and Harold Abrahams, sent to various recipients. There are a small number of printed annuals and publications as well as an extensive sequence of photographs, newspaper cuttings, artefacts and ephemera.

Taken as a whole, these papers are a valuable resource to athletics historians. They are of potential use for exploring gender studies, the history of place, the development of advertising as well as wider issues relating to health and wellbeing throughout the 20th century.
NotesFormer Reference: NCAL
ArrangementThese collections, formerly held as part of the National Centre for Athletics Literature (NCAL), comprise both institutional archives and collections of personal papers of athletes, athletics administrators, journalists and others associated with the athletics world. The following sub-fonds have been created as follows:

Organisational collections:
Amateur Athletic Association: papers, 1880-1992. Finding No: ATH/AAA;
English Cross-Country Union: papers, 1911-1989. Finding No: ATH/ECCU;
Midland Counties Amateur Athletics Association: papers, 1900-1991. Finding No: ATH/MCAAA;
Midland Counties Cross Country Association: papers, 1898-1985. Finding No: ATH/MCCCA;
Midland Counties Women's Amateur Athletic Association: papers, 1949-[1980s]. Finding No: ATH/MCWAAA;
Northern Counties Women's Amateur Athletic Association: papers, 1933-1989. Finding No: ATH/NCWAAA;
Northern Cross-Country Association: papers, 1906-1983. Finding No: ATH/NCCA;
Northern Women's Track and Field League: papers, 1982-1983. Finding No: ATH/NWTFL;
Southern Counties Amateur Athletic Association: papers, 1958-1983. Finding No: ATH/SCAAA;
Southern Counties Cross-Country Association: papers, 1911-1990. Find No: ATH/SCCCA;
The Sports Council: papers, [1940s]-2001. Finding No: ATH/SC;
Women's Amateur Athletic Association: papers, 1932-1989. Finding No: ATH/WAAA.

Personal papers:
Abrahams, Harold Maurice (1899-1978), athlete, administrator, commentator and journalist: papers, 1902-1989. Finding No: ATH/HA;
Adam, George Mair (1898-1989), athlete, coach and athletics administrator: papers, 1909-1989. Finding No: ATH/GA;
Binks, Joseph (Joe) (1874-1966), athlete and athletics commentator: papers, [1920s-1950s]. Finding No: ATH/JB;
Cardew, Martin H. (b 1927), athlete: papers, 1964-1988. Finding No: ATH/MHC;
Cullum, Dennis Noel Johnson (1913-1985), athlete and coach: papers, [1930s]-1985. Finding No: ATH/DC;
Ives, Bert (1890-1975), athlete and athletics administrator: papers, [1920s-1970s]. Finding No: ATH/BI;
Jarvis, Walter (c 1888-c 1935), athlete: papers, 1910-1996. Finding No: MS4;
Jewell, John Christopher (1912-2001), athlete and athletics commentator: papers, 1897-2002. Finding No: ATH/JJ;
Lloyd-Edgley, Ralph: scrapbook, [c 1924]-[c 1931]. Finding No: ATH/RLE;
MacLean, Duncan (1884-1980), athlete and coach: papers, 1948-1977. Finding No: ATH/DM;
Monk, Walter Harry (Wal) (1896-after 1965), athlete: papers, 1918-1961. Finding No: ATH/WHM;
Morgan, Wilf (b 1935), athlete and athletics historian: papers, 1937-2012. Finding No: ATH/WM;
Newton, Arthur Francis Hamilton (1883-1959), athlete: papers, [c 1904]-[1990s]. Finding No: ATH/AN;
Payne, Howard (1931-1992), athlete: papers, 1899-[c 1975]. Finding No: ATH/HP;
Percy, Joe W. (1912-2001), athlete and athletics administrator: papers, 1910-1997. Finding No: ATH/JWP;
Perry, George (b 1903), athlete: papers, [1920s]-1956. Finding No: ATH/GP;
Powell, Edgar Robert Leslie (Peter), (fl 1920s-70s), athlete: papers, 1813-1988. Finding No: ATH/ERLP;
Richards, Wilf (b 1906), athlete and journalist: papers, 1924-[mid 20th century]. Finding No: ATH/WR;
Roberts, Dave (fl 1930s-1990s), athlete and statistician: papers, [1930s]-1991. Finding No: ATH/DR;
Simpson, Colin J. (1929-2011), athlete and athletics administrator: papers, 1945-1990. Finding No: ATH/CS;
Tatham, Wilfrid George (Gus) (1898-1978), athlete: papers, 1908-1960. Finding No: ATH/WGT;
Thomas, Dr Philip, athletics administrator and coach: papers, [c 1900]-[late 20th century]. Finding No: ATH/PT;
Vargas, Charles Climaco (1905-1975), athlete: papers, 1921-31. Finding No: ATH/CCV;
Ward, Leonard H., athletics coach: papers, [mid-20th century]. Finding No: ATH/LW;
Watman, Melvyn Francis (Mel) (b 1938), athletics journalist and statistician: papers, 1980-1993. Finding No: ATH/MW;
Wight, Robert M., athletics administrator: papers, [mid-20th century]. Finding No: ATH/RW;
Winter, Arthur E. H. (d 1990), athlete and athletics commentator: papers, [early 20th century]-1983. Finding No: ATH/AW;
Yarrow, Squire Stevens (1905-1984), athlete and athletics administrator: papers, 1938-1984. Finding No: ATH/SY.

(Miscellaneous) Athletics Collection:
Athletics programmes. Finding No: ATH/Z/1;
Results. Finding No: ATH/Z/2;
Statistics. Finding No: ATH/Z/3;
Conversion and scoring tables. Finding No: ATH/Z/4;
Papers relating to individual athletics clubs and organisations. Finding No: ATH/Z/5;
Papers relating to major athletics championships. Finding No: ATH/Z/6;
Research papers. Finding No: ATH/Z/7;
Oral histories and other recordings. Finding No: ATH/Z/8;
Correspondence. Finding No: ATH/Z/9;
Annuals and miscellaneous publications. Finding No: ATH/Z/10;
Photographs, cuttings, artefacts and ephemera. Finding No: ATH/Z/11.

When these materials formed part of the NCAL sequence, their references numbers were as follows (note that these references are now defunct):
NCAL I: Books;
NCAL II: Pamphlets;
NCAL III: Periodicals, English language (material not transferred to Special Collections);
NCAL IV: Periodicals, foreign language (material not transferred to Special Collections);
NCAL V: Handbooks;
NCAL VI: Rules and handbooks;
NCAL VII: Olympic Games, single contests by year;
NCAL VIII: Olympic Games, books covering more than one contest;
NCAL IX: Olympic Games, pamphlets covering more than one contest;
NCAL X: Empire/Commonwealth Games, miscellaneous;
NCAL XI: Empire/Commonwealth Games, single contests by year;
NCAL XII: European Games;
NCAL XIII: Programmes, arranged by club or meeting;
NCAL XIV: Conversion tables;
NCAL XV: Statistics, international;
NCAL XVI: Statistics, by country A-Z;
NCAL XVII: Archives, international;
NCAL XVIII: Archives, by country;
NCAL XIX: Archives, by club;
NCAL XX: Results, international;
NCAL XXI: Results, national and regional;
NCAL XXII: Results, club;
NCAL XXIII: Fixture lists;
NCAL XXIV: Non-book material, flags, pennants, medals, equipment, badges;
NCAL XXV: Special Collections;
NCAL XXVI: World Student Games;
NCAL XXVII: World Cup, World Cross-Country Championships, World Championships, World Junior Championships;
NCAL XXVIII: Veteran athletics, club, national and international.
Access ConditionsAccess to all registered researchers.
Finding AidsA catalogue of this collection is available on the online archive catalogue. Click on the Finding Number to display the summary contents list of the catalogue and to view the full catalogue, or view the catalogue as a PDF file by clicking in the document field below.
DocumentNational Athletics Archive Resource Guide.pdf
Athletics Programmes Resource Guide arranged by date of meeting.pdf
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryThe National Centre for Athletics Literature (NCAL), originally titled The National Documentation Centre, was first established on the recommendation of the Sports Council, under the terms of a grant from the Department of Education and Science. It was originally housed at the Queen's University of Belfast in June 1969. The Centre was transferred from the Queen's University of Belfast to the University of Birmingham in August 1973. The Centre relocated to Birmingham following a meeting between Dr Kenneth Humphreys, the then University Librarian, and representatives of the National Union of Track Statisticians (NUTS).

The Centre operated under the guidance of a Joint Advisory Committee composed of members of the Sports Council and of the University. Its remit was to collect and acquire literature relating to the fields of sport, physical education and recreation. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, NCAL acquired various published, printed and ephemeral materials including books, periodicals and pamphlets; athletics programmes, handbooks and rules; statistics, results and fixture lists; and with particular strengths in materials relating to Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

The collections deposited with NCAL also included the historical records of various athletics bodies such as the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA), the Midland Counties Amateur Athletic Association (MCAAA) and the archives of some individual athletics clubs; and a very significant corpus of personal papers of individuals, including the letters and results compiled by Joe Binks, athletics correspondent of the 'News of the World', 1903-56; papers of Dave Roberts, Honorary Statistician of the Road Runners Club relating to long distance running and marathon results and statistics; books, papers, slides and recordings of Harold Abrahams; presscutting albums of the athlete, Bert Ives, former President of the English Cross Country Union (ECCU). A small artificial collection was also created for the acquisition of individual letters of individuals associated with the athletics world. In addition, NCAL also acquired artefacts including medals and badges.

By the mid 1970s, NCAL had also started to build up a sound archive, based on interviews with athletes and athletics administrators; interviews were recorded with, for example, Audrey (nee Brown) Court and by the early 1990s, more than 100 interviews had been recorded, many of them transcribed. A specialist classification scheme, based on the Library of Congress, was devised for the collection and several editions of the printed catalogue was produced and circulated.

In 1993, NCAL ceased to have its own dedicated specialist librarian and in the early 2000s, the Cadbury Research Library (Special Collections) took over active management responsibility for the archive collections, the rare published and printed materials, the ephemera collections and the sound recordings. This archival material is now fully catalogued and available via CalmView.

In addition, the valuable and rare books, periodicals and pamphlets are now housed in the Cadbury Research Library and can be found on the Library online catalogue. These include copies of the magazine 'Sport and Play', 1876-1938. A separate Olympic collection of all the Olympic related printed materials has also been created and fully catalogued and these items too are searchable via the Library online catalogue.

Some material, originally included in the NCAL collections, was not transferred to the Cadbury Research Library. These primarily comprise most of the printed book collections (former reference: NCAL I and NCAL II); and most of the periodical collections (former reference: NCAL III).

Now fully catalogued, this collection is titled the National Athletic Archive. As a consequence, the original NCAL classification scheme is redundant.
Custodial HistoryThis collection was previously in the custody of the National Centre for Athletics Literature (NCAL).
AcquisitionArchival materials transferred to the Cadbury Research Library during the early 2000s
Related MaterialPrinted book and pamphlets can be found listed on the book catalogue, FindIt. A 'named collection' of printed books relating to the Olympic Games can also be found on FindIt.
Associated MaterialsWest Yorkshire Archive Service, Kirklees, Archon Code: 204 (papers of the Northern Counties Amateur Athletic Association)
Surrey History Centre, Archon Code: 805404 (Records of The Surrey Walking Club, 1899-2019. Ref: 8671)
Surrey History Centre, Archon Code: 805404 (Records of The Centurions 1911, walking society, 1908-2018. Ref: 8923)
Surrey History Centre, Archon Code: 805404 (Records of The Long Distance Walkers Association including magazines and newsletters, 1972-2020. Ref: 10205)


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