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Jack Level Presidents Collection

Identifier: MSSP 5005

Scope and Contents

The collection contains Level's manuscript, illustrations, research materials, and correspondence for his Sports and Pastimes of the Presidents project, which he appears to have worked on persistently in the early 1960s. Level was not a historian, but he corresponded extensively with repositories and individuals to learn as much as he could of the recreational preferences of the presidents, from Washington to Lyndon Johnson. Topics entertained include athletic sports (as participant and spectator); field sports; forms of physical exercise; games; and broader leisure activities like reading. Series 1 contains typescript drafts of Level's text, organized into sections on the individual presidents and on various sports and recreational activities. Numerous drafts of these "chapters" are often present; the typical length of a chapter on a given president is 4-5 pages. There are no notes. Series 2 and 3 contain book chapters, articles, pamphlets, clippings, correspondence, and photographs and other illustrations assembled by Level in the course of his research, arranged by president or activity. Originally in the collection were two disbound scrapbooks with similar material, mostly clippings, affixed to the leaves; these were not retained. Among the illustrations, the most notable item is a copy of the 1860 Currier and Ives lithograph The National Game, showing Lincoln and the other candidates as baseball players.


  • Creation: 1860-1968


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

John Ambrose Level, Jr., was born on 25 September 1889 in Davenport, Washington Territory. He attended the University of Missouri (1913-15) and for 33 years worked in New York for RKO Radio Pictures, writing advertising copy. After his retirement Level indulged his interest in the bibliography of golf, running a business ("Golf Book Service") out of his home in Elmhurst, Long Island. This in turn led to an interest in the recreational activities of the U.S. presidents. In the 1950s and 60s Level worked on a manuscript on this topic and assembled relevant illustrations, but failed to sell the idea to a publisher.


3 Cubic Feet (3 containers and 1 flat storage container)

Language of Materials



Manuscript drafts and research materials for the unpublished book Sports and Pastimes of the Presidents, by Jack Level of Elmhurst, New York.


The collection is arranged in three series: 1. Manuscript for Sports and Pastimes of the Presidents; 2. Research materials for Sports and Pastimes of the Presidents; 3. Oversize research materials for Sports and Pastimes of the Presidents; Folders dedicated to individual Presidents are arranged in order of Presidential terms. Other topics are arranged alphabetically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was acquired by the Libraries from Jack Level in 1969, as part of a broader purchase of Level's sports related books. Arranged and described 1998, by George Rugg. Finding aid 2015, by George Rugg.

Jack Level Presidents Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556