The National Sporting Library in Middleburg has received the 3,300-volume research collection of Margaret C. "Sissy" Woolums, who spent a lifetime compiling racing statistics and Thoroughbred pedigrees. Woolums, of Lexington, Ky., died Feb. 28 at age 68.
The collection includes 20th-century Thoroughbred books, stud books and racing charts and calendars from 40 countries. There are also rare Kentucky Derby programs dating from 1937 -- including the 1938 program with '37 Derby winner War Admiral on the cover -- and the personal farm catalogue of Seabiscuit owner Charles Howard.
Most computerized databases of racing records date only to the 1980s, and most international information is available only from the mid-1990s. So if researchers want detailed race records on such Thoroughbred legends as War Admiral, Seabiscuit, Kelso or even Secretariat, they are still dependent on print records such as those compiled by Woolums.
"With the addition of the Woolums library, the NSL's statistical base for 20th-century Thoroughbred racing is now second to none in the world," said the library's acting director, Rebecca Tomlinson. "Ironically, the NSL -- whose collection of 18th- and 19th-century charts is among the best in the world -- was lacking in some areas of 20th-century records, which the Woolums collection now fills."
Woolums was a leading authority on Thoroughbred pedigrees and genealogy. She became involved in Thoroughbred sales cataloguing when she was hired in the catalogueing and pedigree department of The Blood-Horse, a trade magazine, in 1959. She joined the Jockey Club Statistical Bureau shortly after it was established in 1960 to computerize pedigree and performance records to simplify the task of compiling catalogue pages for horses sold at public auction.
In 1970, she and her husband, Bill Woolums, created Pedigree Associates, now Pedigree Productions, which became a world leader in the production of Thoroughbred sales catalogues and pedigree research. Woolums and her company designed, standardized and copyrighted the present-day catalogue pages that include a horse's pedigree and bold type for stakes winners and stakes-placed horses.
In the 1980s, the Jockey Club started to computerize all data collected from national and international sources. In the 1990s, in conjunction with Weatherbys Group Ltd., keepers of the General Stud Book of Britain and Ireland, the club created the World-Wide Data Base.
Woolums rejoined the Jockey Club as international information coordinator in 1995 and retired in 2001.
The collection is available for general research during library hours, 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and by appointment Saturdays.
-- LESLIE SHEPHERD