Monkeying around with Sock Monkeys

Monkeying around with Sock Monkeys

The beloved sock monkey is easily recognizable, cute, silly, and soft, but where did it originate? According to Bonnie Krauss Connelly’s book, Everything’s Coming up Sock Monkeys!: Art, History and Business of the American Sock Monkey, the classic toy’s beginnings can be traced back to Rockford, Illinois, where Swedish immigrant John Nelson settled in 1852….

Cabbage Patch Kids: A 1983 Phenomenon

Cabbage Patch Kids: A 1983 Phenomenon

As a child who preferred playing outside with sticks and leaves, only a handful of dolls ever really captured my attention. In fact, I only recall true fondness for four dolls: Baby Tenderlove, Raggedy Ann, Darci cover girl, and my Cabbage Patch Kid—Kendall Walter Winner. In 1983, at the age of 13, I wasn’t interested…

Muppets Among Us

Muppets Among Us

It’s time to play the music It’s time to light the lights It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight It’s time to put on makeup It’s time to dress up right It’s time to raise the curtain on the Muppet Show tonight Why do we always come here? I guess we’ll…

Bingo!

Bingo!

Some of my fondest childhood memories date back to the 1970s and 80s when my grandparents would take my sister and me to Friday night bingo at the local fire hall. The moment we stepped into the building, we were enveloped by the sights, sounds, and aromas of bingo. Hot dogs, popcorn, and refreshments were…

Trading Cards: Beyond Baseball

Trading Cards: Beyond Baseball

With more than 4,000 examples of trading cards in its collections, The Strong has documented the form’s evolution over more than a century and currently shows off more than 800 examples as part of the museum’s Online Collections. From cigarette cards from the 1890s that feature actresses of the day to Star Wars collecting cards…

The Home Front: Toy Production during World War II

The Home Front: Toy Production during World War II

Life at The Strong provides me with access to wonderful historical resources. As cataloger for the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, I typically deal with toy trade catalogs that date from the 1960s through the 1990s. Recently, however, I’ve dealt with some older catalogs from the 1930s through the 1950s. As I worked…

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Professional Wrestling: A Ringside View of The Strong’s Collection

Professional Wrestling: A Ringside View of The Strong’s Collection

I just happen to know a thing or two about professional wrestling. If you ask me to name several wrestlers off the top of my head, I’ll list off The Rock, Triple H, The British Bulldogs, Jake the Snake, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, The Undertaker, John Cena, Booker T, “Stone Cold” Steve…

My Favorite Toy Catalogs in the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play

My Favorite Toy Catalogs in the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play

The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play is a treasure trove of materials devoted to the intellectual, social, and cultural history of play. The library’s collection of more than 140,000 resources—books,  periodicals, comic books, audio-visual materials—include more than 18,000 trade catalogs, the majority of which are focused on the toy, game, and recreation industries….

Color Me Happy

Color Me Happy

I never ran short of things to do as a kid, and rarely felt bored. Beyond the puzzles, games, and toys that I enjoyed, I had one activity that I truly cherished—coloring. Like many children, I was introduced to arts and crafts at an early age. Although the crafts part never really took, I developed…

Magic Slate, Stretch Armstrong, and Toys that Make You Go Hmmm…

Magic Slate, Stretch Armstrong, and Toys that Make You Go Hmmm…

I’ve always been curious about how things work. I’ve been known to take things apart and put them back together, just to see if I can. Sometimes tools are involved, sometimes not. Over the years, my scientific explorations have taken me inside the workings of telephones, electronics, vacuum cleaners, and toys—especially toys. Looking back, it…