Long before I began working in museums, I studied photography as an undergraduate student. My interest began as a teenager, sparked by a love of black and white documentary photographs. I was captivated by the universal language the medium spoke and the idea that with the push of a button, a single moment could be captured, documented, and kept forever. You can imagine my delight when I recently found myself tasked with sorting through photographs from our collections here at The Strong.
A beautiful collie stands in a meadow of blue and yellow flowers. His brown and white fur blows in the wind. He looks well tempered and loyal. I affectionately call him Sammy, but when I roll him over to rub his belly, I am confronted with an advertisement for Butter-Krust Bread. What gives? Sammy’s more than just a dog; he’s an advertising toy, just one of hundreds of similar toys distributed by businesses as advertisements between 1895 and 1920.
I didn’t grow up with the Berenstain Bears—having been born just a little too early—but I more than made up for that omission in my adult years thanks to an opportunity to spend time with Jan Berenstain, author and illustrator for the hundreds of Bears books.
In 2009, Mattel introduced two new Barbie dolls, Edward and Bella, to their Pink Label collection. I’m sure most recognize this famous duo as Bella Swan and her sparkly vampire beau, Edward Cullen, from the Twilight saga.
As a kid, I had the good fortune of a basement playroom brimming with toys, from a massive pink Barbie Dream House to bins full of Lego bricks and even an air hockey table. Though I enjoyed all these toys, I gravitated to a box full of blank, hardcover books more than anything else in the basement.
My three younger siblings and I loved playing outside and going on adventures in our large backyard and adjacent woods.
If you believe, as I did, that Barbie has a flair for fashion unparalleled among dolls, what with her sparkling, sequined, and infinite polyester outfits, then you’re in for a bit of a shock.
Before I joined the Collections Team at The Strong, I worked as a host on the Guest Services Team.
The signs are everywhere: YARD SALE, GARAGE SALE, ESTATE SALE, MOVING SALE. Like the sirens of Greek mythology, their sweet song proves irresistible. My sister and I spend many a weekend chasing down sales—a favorite leisure activity. I don’t consider myself a collector but a treasure hunter caught by the whimsical item that seizes my attention, making an almost instantaneous connection for reasons both known and unknown. I enjoy the hunt and am equally pleased to find something for my brother or sister, both collectors with specific interests.
“Hey, Mom, quick! Look at me swimming with my legs and feet together! Who am I?”