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…

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…

Do You Believe in Magic?

Do You Believe in Magic?

Do you believe in magic? Yes, that’s the title of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1965 hit song, but I’m actually referring to magic tricks and illusions. The word “magic” evokes different images for different people. Some may think of stage magic, where a magician twirls a wand and a white bunny appears out of a black…

Outdoor Fun: Toys You Throw

Outdoor Fun: Toys You Throw

I love to throw things and always have. Softballs, paper airplanes, Frisbees, water balloons, you name it—if it can be thrown, tossed, or side-armed, I’m there. Sometimes I like to throw for distance and speed, other times for accuracy. Trajectory, body mechanics, kinetic energy, and velocity are part of the formula. Those factors (combined with…

Spinning Wheels: Roller Skating through the Years

Spinning Wheels: Roller Skating through the Years

Do you remember your first pair of roller skates? I do. I can easily visualize the bulky metal skates that clamped onto my shoes when I was about seven years old. Those skates weren’t easy to maneuver, especially as I navigated the uneven sidewalks of my dead-end street, but I recall a certain sense of…

The OTHER Video Games: Board Games Based on 70s and 80s Television Shows

The OTHER Video Games: Board Games Based on 70s and 80s Television Shows

When you live in a Little House on the Prairie, every day offers a fresh challenge. Who knows what challenges you’ll be confronted with next? Will Pa need to race against time to extinguish a blazing fire? Will Mary and Laura come face-to-face with a pack of wolves? Will Ma and Carrie find a good…