Line Up for a Game, Comrades!

Line Up for a Game, Comrades!

Board games and serious politics usually don’t mix. But in 2011, a Polish government think tank known as The Institute of National Remembrance created an interesting board game called Kolejka that The Strong recently acquired for its collections. The Institute researches crimes committed by the Nazi and Communist parties in Poland and makes that information…

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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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A Boy and His Bike

A Boy and His Bike

Most of us recall our first bike with great fondness. We remember how long we waited for it, how difficult it was to first master, and how much fun we had with it. The day we received that bike was one to be remembered—a milestone, whether it was Christmas, the first day of spring, a…

A Galaxy’s Worth of Star Wars Action Figures

A Galaxy’s Worth of Star Wars Action Figures

Have you ever heard anyone say “I think I have too many Star Wars action figures”? Of course not. Who would ever say such a thing? So, you can understand my excitement last December when an opportunity arose to acquire a collection of Star Wars figures. After all, just the month before, The Strong had…

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Game Time! Play: Lighting the Way

Game Time! Play: Lighting the Way

Renowned Scottish dramatist James M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, wrote, “The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.” Taking the notion a step further, 19th-century art critic and social thinker John Ruskin proffered that “mixing enough play with the work” helps ensure that each of…

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A Rochester Game Manufacturer: The Alderman-Fairchild Corp.

A Rochester Game Manufacturer: The Alderman-Fairchild Corp.

Few probably realize that Rochester, New York, was once home to a large game and toy manufacturer. Henry Alderman and Elmer E. Fairchild formed the Alderman-Fairchild Company in 1900 and initially printed paper goods and cardboard boxes for clients such as Rochester’s Fanny Farmer Candy. The city had grown into an important printing center during…

Constructing Creativity

Constructing Creativity

What is it about construction toys that continues to entertain us as both children and adults? Is it the satisfying “click” we hear as pieces come together? Is it the towering structures we create? Or is it the tactile nature of the medium, allowing us to bring imaginative play to life, creating something that, moments…

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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…

The Other Sara Lee: A Doll Story

The Other Sara Lee: A Doll Story

A few weeks ago, while gathering some toys from The Strong’s collection for a media event, I came across a little infant doll I had never seen before. She sat alone on a shelf in storage, and I would have missed her completely if I hadn’t been looking specifically for dolls depicting African Americans.

Young and Green: My Early Environmental Education

Young and Green: My Early Environmental Education

Every day should be Earth Day, of course, but once upon a time, a group of concerned citizens coordinated its very first occasion. Earth Day began on April 22, 1970, with schools across the United States hosting concurrent teach-ins to protest practices polluting natural resources. It’s apropos, then, that my lifelong respect for the environment…