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…

Welcome to Game Time!

Welcome to Game Time!

Roll the dice! Deal the cards! It’s time to welcome you to Game Time!, the newest exhibit at the National Museum of Play at The Strong. Game Time! explores the stories behind the non-electronic games that have played an important part in American life and culture over the past three centuries.

West. Honey West: Female Spies in Television and Toys

West. Honey West: Female Spies in Television and Toys

Though Bond girls and seductive villainesses have been the most memorable women of the spy genre since Dr. No premiered to American audiences in 1963, not all ladies have found themselves relegated to supporting roles. Surely female characters engaged in espionage have James Bond to thank for sparking the 1960s spy trend and the fantastic…

The Bunny Hop

The Bunny Hop

Spring has brought the annual influx of chocolate bunnies into my supermarket. And April’s sunnier days with longer daylight have sent my neighborhood’s rabbits onto a quest for sprouting greenery to munch. With hares seemingly everywhere, I’ve also started noticing all the rabbits in The Strong’s collection.

The Mighty Miniature

The Mighty Miniature

As children, many of us assume that the larger the package, the better the present, right? I believed this until my eighth birthday, when the largest gift box contained… a cat litter pan. (A relative thought it an appropriate gift, as my parents had recently allowed me to adopt a kitten.) It was then and…

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….

It’s Snow Fun Again!

It’s Snow Fun Again!

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, it used to snow a lot more that it does today; or at least it seems that way. Without getting into a debate about climate change, let me say that during my childhood there always seemed to be plenty of snow to play in all winter…

Room for Recollection: The Miniature World of Alice Steele

Room for Recollection: The Miniature World of Alice Steele

I was born and raised in a small rural town in Western New York. I lived near my mother’s childhood home where I enjoyed many happy hours in the company of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Our families would often gather to play cards, bake, do laundry, or celebrate special occasions. I loved to…

Glass Slippers Galore

Glass Slippers Galore

Cinderella has a long history of influencing popular culture and playthings. You might even say that she’s left a big footprint. The popular princess and her glass slipper came to my attention recently as I read an article about the upcoming Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Cinderella. The article focused on the creation…