Collections

The Strong owns and cares for the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls, board games, video games, other electronic games, books, documents, and other historical materials related to play. This unprecedented assemblage offers a unique interpretive and educational window into the critical role of play in human physical, social, and intellectual development and the ways in which play reflects cultural history.

Recent Acquisitions

Recent acquisitions to The Strong’s collections include the Penguin Software Collection, 1970­–2013, donated by company founder and lead developer Mark Pelczarski, which documents the development of  key software tools that made it possible for programmers to create cutting-edge graphics on computers in the early 1980s; the Flora Gill Jacobs Collection, 1873–2000s, a compilation of reference books, trade catalogs, 19th-century periodicals, children’s books, and scrapbooks—on the topics of dollhouses, play, dolls, toys, crafting miniatures, and more—assembled over a 60-year period by Jacobs, international authority on dollhouses and miniatures and operator of the Washington Dolls’ House and Toy Museum in Georgetown from 1975 through 2004; and the Coleman Family Papers, 1909–1990s, an assemblage of draft manuscripts, reference materials, notes, photographs, doll and doll clothes patterns, data sheets, and other materials created or used by Dorothy, Jane, and Ann Coleman in preparation of their well-known books Dolls: Makers and Marks (1963), Age of Dolls (1965), Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls, Volume 1 (1968), and Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls, Volume 2 (1986).

Key Holdings

The Strong holds more than 400,000 historical objects related to play. These provide the foundation for The Strong’s mission to explore play and the ways in which it encourages learning, creativity, and discovery and illuminates cultural history. The museum’s holdings are organized according to the following major categories, but some individual groupings of collections relate to more than one category and appear here according to their greatest content association.

Access to Collections

Thousands of artifacts from The Strong’s collections are on view in museum exhibits. Tens of thousands of objects are accessible through the museum’s rapidly growing online collections database. Further, the online catalog of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play provides a window in The Strong’s vast collection of books and trade publications. On-site access to the full museum collection is available to scholars, students, collectors, and other researchers by appointment.

Donate to Collections

The Strong welcomes donations that advance the museum’s mission to collect, preserve, exhibit, and research objects, publications, personal papers, business records, advertising and other promotional materials, photographs, and other items that illustrate and document the role of play in learning and human development and the ways in which it illuminates cultural history, particularly but not exclusively, in America.