Repository Profile - American Kennel Club

Letting History Go to the Dogs
Brynn White, Archivist, American Kennel Club

The American Kennel Club Library & Archives holds approximately 18,000 volumes and over 700 linear feet of archival material documenting the sport, art, function, and enjoyment of the purebred dog. The only national repository of its kind, it supports all matter of internal and external canine-related research and information needs.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its Registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs, and breeding for type and function. Founded in 1884, the AKC and its affiliated organizations advocate for the purebred dog as a family companion, advance canine health and well-being, work to protect the rights of all dog owners, and promote responsible dog ownership. It serves as the governing body for over 22,000 dog events a year, including conformation (dog shows) and sports including agility, obedience, rally, tracking, lure coursing, earthdog, and herding trials. A “club of clubs,” the AKC is comprised of parent clubs -- national organizations devoted to each of its acknowledged 187 breeds -- and over 500 member clubs and 5,000 affiliated clubs.


View of the Library as looked over by the skeleton of Belgrave Joe (an important early Fox Terrier).



The Library was established by the Board of Directors in 1934. Starting with only 50 books, the collection proliferated into its current size and diversity -- including rare books, literature, juvenalia, private printings, international publications, and periodicals such as its own AKC Gazette, published since 1889 -- through acquisitions and bequests and donations from prominent members of dogdom. Library holdings are searchable through the online catalog Caius, named for the author of the 1570 treatise which first attempted to establish a scientific classification scheme of dogs. Collected art includes trophies, oil paintings, bronzes, decorative objects, and works on paper. Special collections include international bookplates and stamps, personal scrapbooks, and vertical files of photographs, pamphlets, and clippings files.

To complement its library holdings of AKC club periodicals, show catalogs, yearbooks, breed standards, and monographs, a formal archival program offering free record retention and preservation services was established in 1998. Accessioned club records varyingly consist of administrative files, original research on breeds, show catalogs, photographs, audiovisual footage, ephemera, personal collections of major figures in the breed, and more. The AKC Archivist collaborates with club representatives in the assembly and appraisal of the material legacies of their breed and operational histories before formal ingest into the AKC archives for processing. Professional advisory is also provided to clubs wishing to maintain their collections through their own appointed historians.
While club records constitute the bulk of the AKC archival collections, personal papers of individuals who have played a prominent role in dogdom are also held. The institutional archives of the AKC itself consists of various departmental records dating back to the organization's founding, including board minutes, constitutions and by-laws, rules and regulations pamphlets, photographs, and Club Relations files. All processed collections are published to the AKC’s ArchivesSpace portal, which makes holdings fully searchable to all researchers. 

Blanche Saunders, pioneer of dog obedience training in the United States, readies poodle Ch. Carillon Courage for a demonstration  at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1938. More images, as well a travel journal from Saunders’ famous 1937 obedience tour across the country, are held in the Poodle Club of America collection.


The AKC Library & Archives fields inquiries forwarded by internal departments and facilitates research by staff from Publications, Communications, Marketing, and Executive Management. It directly collaborates in the generation of content for the AKC website, social media platforms, and publications using Library & Archives holdings while also posting to its own Instagram account @akclibrary. Open to the public, it assists in the research for onsite and remote inquiries. Patrons range from club representatives to international scholars and journalists to family members of past participants in the sport to curious pet-owning walk-ins. It essentially serves as the collective memory of the sport, providing evidence and promoting accountability and transparency of past actions; fosters and promotes a sense of community and identity amongst the organization, and the dog-loving public; and critically documents the history of the AKC and the relationship between human and dog.



Note:  Repository Profilies are provided by the organization.  The Business Archives Section will update as notified by the organization.  Accordingly, information may not be accurate.  Individuals should contact the organization before using or citing information.


SAA Home / BAS Home / Contact the Editors