The strength of any research institution lies in the quality of its collections. When, as a doctoral student, Terry Todd searched for documentation on resistance training in the United States, he found it only in the hands of private collectors. The major U.S. research libraries held virtually nothing. Relying on the generosity and knowledge of those private collectors, Terry finished his dissertation and vowed to help those collectors establish a permanent, stable and safe environment for their collections. The Stark Center is the fulfillment of that promise.
The Stark Center’s rich and diverse collections reflect the passion each collector brought to his or her library. The collections also reflect our determination to spotlight the concept of “physical culture” which we define as various activities people have employed over the centuries to strengthen their bodies, enhance their physiques, increase their endurance, improve their health, fight against aging, and become better athletes. It is an all-encompassing phrase meant to illustrate the complexity of human well-being.
Above all, the Stark Center is a comprehensive library devoted to collecting and preserving the words of physical culturists, strongmen, naturopaths, weight lifters, and historians. The library is composed of the books and magazines gathered by many collectors over many years. Together, these collections represent the largest single library committed to the field. Book material has been given standard library cataloging; our holdings are reflected in most national and international library reference/research tools. To directly search our holdings, follow this link to the UT Libraries’ catalog. Search by author, title, keyword and filter the results by “Library”, choosing Stark Center in the drop-down menu. The Stark Center is deeply grateful to the UT Libraries for their support and cooperation.
The following descriptions are illustrative of the breadth and depth of our collections. Click on the collection names in bold for a more detailed description of those collections. For a complete list of the archive collections that are processed and ready for use, please visit our finding aid page. The Center is actively seeking funds to process other collections; we will continue to update these pages as more collections become available.
In keeping with Terry’s promise, the Stark Center’s primary focus is on materials related to the world of strength – training, showmanship, exhibitions and more. Two collections provide the foundation: the Todd-McLean Library and the Ottley Coulter Collection. The Todd-McLean Library holds over 5,000 book titles, several hundred periodical titles and a large artifact collection. Ottley Coulter’s Collection of books, pamphlets, training guides, magazines, clippings and ephemera is rich in late 19th century and early 20th century material. Other collections build on that foundation, including the George Jowett Collection of scrapbooks, letters, photographs and books; the Abbye and Les Stockton Collection spotlighting early Muscle Beach people and activities; the Peary and Mabel Rader Collection of papers and photographs documenting the creation and growth of Iron Man magazine; and the scrapbooks of strongmen George Hackenschmidt and Professor Attila. Also included in this category are the papers and materials from Milo Steinborn, Tommy Kono, Bob Hoffman, Judy Gedney, Alton Eliason, Harold Weiss, David Willoughby, David Webster, and others.
Closely tied to the strength world is that of body building. Many collections noted above include a substantial selection of body building materials. In addition to those collections, the Center is proud to have the papers, books and photographs from Steve Wennerstrom, a long-time promoter and supporter of women’s body building, as was Doris Barrilleaux, the “First Lady of Women’s Body Building.” Ms Barrilleaux amassed a huge collection of photographs from her many years of participating in and, later, documenting body building competitions. Chris Dickerson, 1982 Mr. Olympia, has donated many of his trophies to the Center, and we are pleased to have the papers and photographs belonging to Stanley Rothwell, a British physical culturist.
The Stark Center is proud to assist the University of Texas Austin Intercollegiate Athletics Department with creating an archive to document the incredible athletic legacy of the University’s student-athletes. To that end, we have collected materials from some of UT’s greatest coaches, including the photographic scrapbooks of Darrel K Royal, the papers of Harvey Penick and Wilmer Allison and Dave Snyder, and the papers and artifacts of Mack Brown and Jody Conradt. We also hold the publications archive from the Athletics Media Department, an extensive collection of programs, media guides, and season binders. Rounding out this category are papers, books, and artifacts from Clyde Littlefield, Augie Garrido, Walter Fondren, Gustav “Pig” Dittmar, and Charlie Craven.
Growing up in Austin, one of Terry’s schoolmates was Tinsley Penick, son of the renowned golf teacher, Harvey Penick. Through this connection, the Stark Center established a strong collection of golf materials, mostly books and photographs, but also artifacts. Professional golfer, UT graduate, and local resident Tom Kite has donated a number of artifacts, books and some papers but the highlight of his collection is the 25 amazingly detailed scrapbooks that his mother, Mauryene, created for Tom, the earliest of which give us a rich snapshot of golf in Austin. That rich history includes another outstanding professional golfer, Ben Crenshaw, who, along with his friend and manager, Scotty Sayer, has donated a large collection of photographs and artifacts.
Through contacts made in the local golf community, we have been able to substantially expand our golf book collection. In addition to the items donated by Penick, Kite, Crenshaw, and Sayers, we are pleased to be the home of the Edmund Hoffman Golf Library, the Jim Apfelbaum Golf Collection, and, our newest donation, the William H. and Susan S. Bushman Golf Library.
The world of the 19th century physical culturist was strongly intertwined with that of the naturopathic and complementary medicine community. To study one is to study the other. Consequently, through the intervention of Vic Boff, a New York City physical culturist and health food store owner, the Todds came to acquire the expansive naturopathic collections of Jesse Mercer Gehman, Sydell Herbst-Christopher Gian-Cursio, and Herbert Shelton. All three collections abound in naturopathic and physical culture history.
Not all of our collections are as focused as those above. While we cannot begin to collect extensively on all sports, we can assemble foundation collections for most. In addition to the Todd-McLean Library, which continues to grow, one of our more comprehensive sports collections belonged to William Ward. A native Texan, Mr. Ward’s collection illustrates his love of all sports. As does the immense autograph collection of local Austinite, Beth Rowley, who amassed thousands of autographs from professional and amateur athletes. Recently, the family of Jack Lalanne donated his large clipping files, through which one can track Lalanne’s growth as a physical fitness icon.
Many, if not most, of our collections include extensive photograph holdings. The Rader, Barrilleaux, and Wennerstrom collections are largely photographic, primarily featuring body building and strength athletes. We are also the home to the Albert Davis Sports Photography Collection, a selection of sport-as-art photographs by Stephen Green-Armytage, a large selection of early boxers and wrestlers donated by Jesse Mercer Gehman and Vic Boff, and a selection of southern California body builders photographed by George Zachary.
Finally, the study of sport culture is of great importance to us. We support the curriculum of the Physical Culture and Sport Studies program within the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. Several collections have valuable holdings in this area: Jack Berryman’s extensive collection on the history of sport medicine and science is supplemented by that of Allen Ryan’s collection of sport medicine materials. The research materials of sport scientists Charles Yesalis and Bob Goldman provide insight into the issue of doping in sports. Allen Guttman has donated his very large library of material on sport history and sociology, and David Chapman has given us his library of body building/physique books. Faculty members of the Department have given generously of their papers and libraries: Charlie Craven, Kenneth Klein, Dolly Lambdin, and Waneen Spirduso among others.
The faculty and staff of the Stark Center are grateful to all the above for their generosity and thoughtfulness. We invite you to visit the Stark Center to use a collection of material not found anywhere else. And to celebrate a promise well kept.