Digital Collections from the Library & Archives
The Strong’s Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play is a multidisciplinary research repository devoted to the intellectual, social, and cultural history of play. In addition to housing the personal library and papers of its preeminent namesake, the 220,000-volume research library and archives holds a full spectrum of primary and secondary sources, including scholarly works, professional journals, other periodicals, trade catalogs, children’s books, comic books, manuscripts, personal papers, business records, and more.
Trade Catalog Collection
The Strong’s trade catalog collection includes more than 46,000 catalogs produced during the past 125 years from well-known and influential makers of toys, dolls, puzzles, and games such as Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley, Lionel, Kenner, Playskool, Atari, Hasbro, Mattel, and Fisher-Price. The collection also features examples from hundreds of smaller toy firms of the 20th century, many of which have not survived the corporate consolidations and mass-market retailing that shaped the toy industry in the past 40 years. Additional donors to the trade catalog collection include: the Link Group, Richard C. Levy, Anne Williams, Andrew Berton, Ron Dubren, Ken Brand, Ernie Bridge, Darwin Bromley, GUND, Inc., and the Association for Games and Puzzles International (AGPI).
In 2018, The Strong was awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to catalog and digitize part of the trade catalog collection. From December 2018 through November 2019, the library team cataloged and rehoused 5,026 trade catalogs and digitized 2,337 catalogs, focusing on catalogs published before 1960.
Oral History Projects
Over the years, The Strong has collected various oral history interviews of play-related topics, including recollections about the museum’s founder, Margaret Woodbury Strong; memories of dolls and other playthings; stories from former toy and game company staff members; and more. The Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play will make collections of these oral history projects accessible online to researchers as digitization occurs.
The Women in Games initiative at The Strong began in 2017 as a key program of the museum’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG), building upon The Strong’s already extensive holdings of more than 60,000 video game-related artifacts and more than 1,000 linear feet of physical archival records (including design documents, marketing materials, correspondence, presentations, photographs, and more) that tell the history of video games. The Women in Games initiative shares the ever-evolving story of women’s contributions to the video game industry. Photographs, audio recordings, and transcripts from the Women in Games events in 2018-2019 are now available to researchers across the globe.