Learn about online and on-site opportunities to access The Strong’s world-class collections of toys, dolls, games, and video games.
The Strong owns and cares for the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls, board games, video games, other electronic games, 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.
The Strong’s Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play is the only library and archives devoted solely to collecting and preserving play-related materials. The 225,000-volume research library houses a full spectrum of primary and secondary sources, including scholarly works, professional journals, other periodicals, trade catalogs, children’s books, comic books, manuscripts, personal papers, business records, and more.
Online Access to Collections
Thousands of artifacts from The Strong’s collections are on view in museum exhibits, and tens of thousands of objects are accessible online. Also online are the library and archival catalogs of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, which provides a window in The Strong’s vast collection of books and trade publications. Digital library and archival collections, such as digitized trade catalogs and oral history projects, are available online through the library’s Digital Collections. Researchers and game enthusiasts alike may also want to view The Sid Sackson Portal, an NHPRC grant-funded project to digitize archival materials from game designer Sid Sackson.
In many instances, due to copyright restrictions, The Strong is unable to make archival collections available online. However, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play is permitted to make copies or scans for private study, scholarship, or research; please see our Image Rights and Reproductions Fee Schedule and Use of Collections Materials Agreement below for more information.
On-Site Access to Collections
Please note: The Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play is closed to researchers from June 19 through July 7. We will reopen for research access on Monday, July 10.
On-site access to the full museum collection is available to scholars, students, collectors, and other researchers by appointment. Appointments may be made via an online form, by phone at 585-410-6349, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For the optimal experience with on-site research, two weeks’ notice is required. Please provide a topic of research, indicate the materials desired, and explain any special needs. The Strong distinguishes between library materials, archival collections, and museum objects. Library materials include published materials such as books, journals, magazines, zines, trade catalogs, and marketing kits. Archival collections contain unpublished materials such as manuscripts, correspondence, design notes and drawings, focus group and other research data. Dolls, toys, games, puzzles, video games, pinball and arcade games, and other physical objects are considered museum objects.
Frequently Accessed Policies, Guides, and Forms:
- Use of Collections Materials Agreement
- Digital Game Files Access Policy
- Image Rights and Reproductions Fee Schedule
- Image Use Agreement
- How to Use the Archives Catalog
- Frequently Asked Questions about Researching at The Strong
- Researcher Request Form
To promote and advance play scholarship, The Strong invites academic professionals, independent scholars, museum scholars, and advanced graduate students at the Masters or PhD level to apply for research fellowships. Fellowships provide financial support for scholarly play research conducted on site at The Strong in Rochester, New York, for periods of study ranging from one to four weeks.
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