The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play® is a multidisciplinary research repository devoted to the intellectual, social, and cultural history of play. In addition to housing the personal library and papers of its preeminent namesake, the 140,000-volume research library and archives holds 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. Also housed here are the library and archival collections of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG).
Situated at the Strong
The Strong is a highly interactive, collections-based educational institution devoted to the study and exploration of play. Through the Brian Sutton Smith Library and Archives of Play and its other Play Partners—the National Museum of Play, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, and the American Journal of Play—The Strong explores play and the ways in which it encourages learning, creativity, and discovery and illuminates cultural history.
Named for America’s foremost play scholar
Brian Sutton-Smith is one of the foremost play scholars of the last 100 years. His The Ambiguity of Play (1987) stands alongside Johann Huizinga’s Homo Ludens (1938) and Roger Caillois’s Man Play and Games (1961) as a touchstone of play theory. For more than half a century, in more than 350 books and articles, Sutton-Smith has led or synthesized all the major advances in play studies. His collected works, papers, and personal library are a key element of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, and they symbolize the import of its holdings. Learn more.
Access to the collections
Scholars, students, collectors, and other researchers are welcome to conduct research on site. In order for library and archives staff to optimize collections access, please request an appointment. Appointments may be made online, by phone at 585-410-6349, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide a topic of research, indicate the materials desired, and any special needs.
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 The Strong 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 week to three months.
The online catalog of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play provides a window into its vast collection of books and trade publications. The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play is a non-circulating research center, but some materials are available through interlibrary loan. Trade catalogs, documents, and other items that are irreplaceable, rare, or fragile are not available for loan.