Exploring The Collections: Guides


Every Skate Guard blog that is put together draws from a variety of different sources - everything from museum and library holdings and genealogical research to newspaper archives and dusty old printed materials I've amassed over the last ten years or so. This year, I thought it would be fun to give you a bit of a 'behind the scenes' look at the Skate Guard Collections, which include books, magazines, VHS tapes, show and competition programs, photographs and many other items. These Collections date back to the nineteenth century and chronicle figure skating's rich history from the days of quaint waltzes in coats and tails to quadruple toe-loop's. Whether you're doing your own research about a famous 'fancy' skater in your family tree or a long-lost ice rink in your community or just have a general skating history question you can't find the answer to online, I'm always happy to draw on these resources and try to help if I can. 

This month, I'd like to talk a little bit about one of my absolute favourite resources - the National and World Ice Skating Guides. These Guides, edited by Arthur R. Goodfellow and published by National Sports Publications in New York, were first sold for fifty cents a pop during World War II and continued until the late sixties or early seventies. They focused primarily on professional skating and rink management and included articles on everything from coaching to how to make your own rink. They also included travel itineraries of major touring productions like the Ice Capades, Ice Follies, Hollywood Ice Revue and Holiday On Ice and detailed information about hotel shows and smaller tours. Professional skaters paid to include advertisements with photographs that detailed their resumes and provided contact information should show promoters be interested in hiring them. 

There were lists and prices of skating books, short biographies of top skaters and coaches and a listing of just about every ice rink in North America - as well as many in Europe - along each rink's physical address, seating capacity, the months it was open and its ice surface size. This carefully curated and maintained list included a list of coaches at each rink in later editions, which is something that is super useful if you're trying to learn more about your club's history or trace a certain skater's coaching career from season to season.

In the Guides, you could also find competition results and schedules, advertisements for skates, costumes and accessories and historical tidbits. These black and white Guides, which averaged between one hundred and fifty to two hundred pages in length, were literally chock full of just about everything. Unfortunately, unlike skating magazines and books, they are exceedingly rare as there was only one printing of each year's Guide. 

If you've got copies of these Guides collecting dust in your attic or basement that you'd like to donate, I'd love to hear from you!

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.