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About Us

The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play

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.

Named for America’s Foremost Play Scholar

Brian Sutton-Smith (1924–2015) was one of the foremost play scholars of the last 100 years. His The Ambiguity of Play (1997) stands alongside Johann Huizinga’s Homo Ludens (1938) and Roger Caillois’s Man Play and Games (1961) as a touchstone of play theory. For more than half a century, in more than 350 books and articles, Sutton-Smith led or synthesized all the major advances in play studies. His collected works, papers, and personal library are a key element of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, and they symbolize the import of its holdings.

Key Holdings

The holdings of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play encompass a broad range of materials and play-related topics, including collections gathered and cared for through the work of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. The collections are especially strong in regard to the history of toys, dolls, video games, other electronic games, board games, and puzzles. Also included are significant holdings reflecting the work of leading American scholars and educators in the fields of play and early childhood education.

Contact a Librarian

The Strong’s staff is glad to assist with research inquiries, questions about collections, and requests for images. Please fill out the contact form completely, providing a topic of research, the materials desired and any special needs, so that Library and Archives staff optimize collections research. Staff will respond within two weeks of initial request.

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