My current book project looks at Orientalism in American toy culture at the turn from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. Its primary objects of analysis are Japanese dolls, imports from Japan that were often imagined as Japanese American immigrants by the children who played with them. However, in researching this topic, I soon came upon another, much stranger artifact of interest: a toy called the Billiken doll. At first, this doll struck me as profoundly bizarre. It […]
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During and following World War II, children across the United States used their pocket money to collect trading cards that depicted the activities of the U.S. military in a variety of times and places, both current conflicts such as the Pacific Theater in World War II or the Korean War of 1950–1953, and historical ones, such as the Mexican-American War and the American Revolutionary War. Although many cards showed lurid and violent conflict, much of this kind of action was […]
The once pejorative term “walking simulator” was often deployed to single out video games that bucked the trend of delivering a fast-paced, action-packed, adrenaline-pumping experience with clear-cut rules and goals and instead opted for making video games organized by a thin set of rules and optional tasks in favor of open-ended wandering and exploration. These days, walking simulators show promise as they rise in popularity, signaling an important shift in interest among developers and gamers alike toward nuance, discovery, and […]
Often written off as charming novelties of childhood, paper dolls can serve as powerful indicators of the drastic sociopolitical changes occurring in the early 20th century. Like many toys, they reflect the cultural values of their creators and their consumers, providing insight into the lives of women and children during a tumultuous political era. During my time at The Strong National Museum of Play, I was able to examine a wide variety of paper dolls created between 1900 and 1940 […]
For three months during the summer of 2021, I had the privilege to work as an intern for the Collections team at The Strong museum. My primary project focused on researching and cataloging action and toy figures ranging from the 1970s to the 2000s. At the start of my internship, I also cataloged a collection consisting of 1940s cast iron lead figures from manufacturers such as Barclay, Auburn Rubber Company, and Manoil Mfg, Company. Highlights included The Happy Farm […]
2021 G. Rollie Adams Research Fellow
PhD Student at The State University of New York at Buffalo
I came to The Strong with an open-ended mission: to soak up everything I could surrounding my research interests in early childhood autism and play as part of my dissertation research. Fortunately, The Strong’s Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play is filled with rich secondary materials that provided a lens to understand the primary sources within the museum’s collections in a new way.
In my previous blog post, I outline how the museum acquires butterfly pupae for our Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden. But what happens when the weekly shipment of 200 or 300 new pupae arrives?
Once the shipment arrives, my team and I open it up and begin setting up the pupae to be placed in our emergence case for guests to view. Pupae are arranged by species and labeled so we can easily tell them apart. (Different species often look unique so […]
The question I hear most as supervisor of live collections is, “Where do you get all these butterflies?”
Any guest who has marveled at the hundreds of tropical insects flying around our Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden has probably had the thought at some point. Many guests assume we breed butterflies and caterpillars on site, while others ask if we go out and capture adult butterflies in nature ourselves. While I love the idea of spending my days frolicking through a meadow […]
Eva Nwokah, 2019 G. Rollie Adams Research Fellow
Professor, Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, Texas
My current research is focused on how animals in children’s literature are portrayed with human characteristics through what they wear and what they say—in other words, animals that are anthropomorphized. Why do children find that animals speak and behave like humans appealing? This playful aspect of stories encourages children’s imagination, holds their attention with silly images, and has been used by authors […]