The Spalding Athletic Library and the American Sports Publishing Company were both founded by A.G. Spalding, owner of Spalding's Athletic Goods. Designed to produce affordable books on a wide variety of sports, rule books, and others, Spalding's conveniently included related catalogs and order forms for their goods in each inexpensive booklet.
Published in 1917 and written by outdoor sports expert and author James A. Cruikshank, Spalding's Winter Sports is our featured artifact of the day, acquired by the Hudson River Maritime Museum as part of a collection of ice boating materials. And thanks to the transcription skills of volunteer Adam Kaplan, we'll be serializing each chapter of Winter Sports for the next several weeks.
If you'd like to see the other sports booklets that Spalding offered (and there were hundreds), you can see some of their works digitized at the Library of Congress.
The booklet features short articles on skating, skiing, snowshoeing, ice boating, tobogganing, hockey, and more. Be sure to join our mailing list to get updates and make sure you don't miss a chapter! The introduction starts below.
Interior pages of "Spalding's Winter Sports" by James A. Cruikshank, 1917. Ray Ruge Collection, Hudson River Maritime Museum. At left, the author's biography reads, "James A. Cruikshank, author of the Spalding Athletic Library book on Winter Sports, is a New Yorker by birth and residence. He has traveled widely on this and other continents at all seasons of the year. He is a recognized authority on outdoor sports, having held editorial connection with many leading publications in that field. His lectures on outdoor life have been attended by over one hundred thousand people during the past ten years."
Winter sports are now a most important feature of the outdoor life of the northern half of the world. During the past ten years there has been a complete change in the attitude of the sport-loving folk of northern nations toward what was once regarded as the least interesting outdoor season of the year. Now, there are great numbers of experienced outdoor folks, familiar with the sports of the world, who do not hesitate to claim that the outdoor sports of the winter, in cold, snowy latitudes, are incomparably the most fascinating as well as the most beneficial pastimes of the four seasons. The enthusiasm of these new champions of winter is making itself felt all over the world; but especially in the United States, where outdoor sport of every kind is now enjoying the zenith of its popularity, and where there is constant demand for some new form of outdoor pastime, has the charm of the new outings on snow and ice made special appeal.
Many of the most thrilling sports of the year are found among the winter pastimes. Ice Yachting knows no second for sensational features; Ski Jumping from a take-off rivals aeroplaning with its danger; Hockey is one of the most spectacular games in the whole realm of sport; and the list might be indefinitely extended. For the seeker after other forms of winter entertainment out of doors, there is to be found almost everything that could be asked from the quaint curling game of the cannie Scot to a snowshoe hunt for wolves in Canadian white silences. And for the lover of nature, in all her varied forms, there are winter beauties which rival those of summer.
To stimulate interest in the charm of winter in the north, and to provide helpful information as to how some of the best winter sports may be enjoyed, is the purpose of this little book.
Author James A. Cruikshank was a longtime New York resident and was an expert outdoorsman, writing and editing publications for American Angler magazine, Field and Stream, and more, as well as authoring books like Spalding's Winter Sports. He hiked, hunted, fished, boated, snowshoed, skied, ice skated, mountain climbed, camped, and more. He was also an avid photographer and gave public talks illustrated by his own photographs (which are also featured in "Spalding's Winter Sports") and even film reels. You can read a more extensive biography of him below.
James A. Cruikshank was an expert on outdoors sports during the first half of the 20th century. Born in Scotland but spending most of his life in New York, he was the editor of The American Angler magazine, Field and Stream, and wrote numerous articles for a wide variety of other magazines and newspapers throughout his career, including the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He also published at least three books: Spalding’s Winter Sports (1913, 1917), Canoeing and Camping (1915), and Figure Skating for Women (1921, 1922). He also contributed a chapter on artificial lures to The Basses: Freshwater and Marine (1905). In addition to his writing, Cruikshank was involved in public speaking, doing talks on outdoor sports sometimes illustrated by motion pictures. An avid photographer, Cruikshank’s photos often featured in his illustrated lectures, his articles, and his books, as he encouraged readers to take their own cameras out-of-doors. He had a home in the Catskills as well as a home and offices in New York City, and in the 1930s he helped found the Hudson River Yachting Association. At one point, he managed the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink, and another in Rye, NY. His wife Alice was also an avid camper and hiker, and they often traveled together. In 1909, Alice went “viral” in newspapers around the country by being the first person to blaze a trail between Mount Field and Mount Wiley in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (James brought up the rear). James and Alice eventually moved to Drexel, PA and were vacationing in Lake Placid in July of 1957 when James died unexpectedly at the age of 88.
Stay tuned next week for the next chapter in Spalding's Winter Sports (1917)!
If you enjoyed this post and would like to support more history blog content, please make a donation to the Hudson River Maritime Museum or become a member today!
This blog is written by Hudson River Maritime Museum staff, volunteers and guest contributors.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY 12401
The Hudson River Maritime Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and related industries.
Become a member and receive benefits like unlimited free museum admission, discounts on classes, programs, and in the museum store, plus invitations to members-only events.
The Hudson River Maritime Museum receives no federal, state, or municipal funding except through competitive, project-based grants. Your donation helps support our mission of education and preservation.