Arthur Carman was an internationally known cricket (and rugby) statistician who was responsible for researching and preserving a good deal of the statistical information about cricket in this country. In 1948, together with Noel S. MacDonald, he edited the first “Cricket Almanack of New Zealand” and from 1958 to 1982 he took sole responsibility for it’s publication. The Almanacks are indispensable reading for anyone who is interested in the history of cricket in New Zealand. Carman also wrote numerous books on cricket, including “Wellington Cricket Centenary 1875-1975” (1975) and “ New Zealand International Cricket 1894-1974” (1974) which were both published by his own company, Sporting Publications. You can read more about this remarkable man on Te Ara.
Here at the New Zealand Cricket Museum we have four boxes of his notes and scrapbooks in our archive and, slowly but surely, we are beginning to catalogue this collection. The boxes contain many scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings about cricket from New Zealand and international newspapers. Inserted into many scrapbooks are countless other newspaper clippings, unattached and not stuck down that, on first glance, do not appear to have any link to the original scrapbook clippings. Did Carman simply put them into scrapbooks for safe keeping? Are they indeed linked to the scrapbook contents? Are there patterns that Arthur saw and we need to discover? How do we catalogue the contents of this scrapbook in a way that can both make them useful to researchers and reflect the way Carman worked to compile his mountains of reference? These are all questions that we have to face when cataloguing and recording such an important, and complex, collection.
There are also piles of correspondence, mainly correspondence written to him. Some of it appears to be in a kind of order and much of it is obviously material to be used in the compilation of a certain year’s Almanack. Carman appears to have had correspondents in many district and league cricket clubs who fed him with a plethora of information ranging from who played where to who the umpires were at a local league game on a wet Sunday afternoon. There is also international correspondence that hints of projects perhaps unfulfilled or abandoned. Of course this isn’t all of his correspondence. There are other collections of Carman’s sitting in other places and we may well need to find them in order to make any firm assumptions about the letters we hold. We have much reading and research to do in order to identify all the patterns that were in Carman’s unique, mental filing system.
Beginning this cataloguing process has made us aware of the immense amount of time and effort that cricket statisticians had (and still have) to put into their work. In Carman’s case it was the endless sifting of correspondence and the collation of hundreds and hundreds of news clippings from all over New Zealand and the world. They were obviously his primary source material and we can only imagine his constant poring over the endless lists and notes that eventually would become the Almanack or surface as a contribution to the history of a cricket club. All this and the countless requests for information he seems to have dealt with everyday! However long it takes us to catalogue this material it won’t be in any way comparable to the life long dedication to this beautiful game that is reflected in Carman’s work. Watch this space for regular updates.