Archival Collections

The archival collections of The Strong's Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play® include personal papers, design documents, business records, manuscripts, works of art, and other materials that provide unique windows into the many facets of play, its role in learning and human development, and the ways in which it illuminates cultural history.

Key holdings include the following:

Aeolian American Piano Corporation Collection, 1840s–1950s

The Aeolian American Piano Corporation Collection contains records and design drawings of the world's largest piano manufacturer in the early 20th century. The corporation, which resulted from a 1932 merger between the Aeolian (1887) and American (1908) companies and produced several brands over time, had its headquarters and factory in East Rochester, New York, where at one point it employed almost 500 people. The collection includes 300 trade catalogs and advertising pieces, 25 ledgers and daybooks, 50 blueprints for pianos, 10 volumes of piano patents, 90 photographs, 20 master player piano rolls, 15 folders of papers and correspondence, 35 monographs, and 25 newspaper issues.

Stan and Jan Berenstain Archive of Cartoon Art, 1940s–1980s

The Berenstain Archive provides a unique glimpse of mid-to-late-20th-century family life in America as seen through the pop culture lens of syndicated comic strips, monthly comic series, and humorous books. Stanley (1923–2005) and Janice (1923–2012) Berenstain met in 1941 and produced a prodigious quantity of cartoon art over their long careers. The archive begins with the Berenstains’ earliest work in the late 1940s and continues through their mid-1950s syndicated comic strip Sister and their It’s All in the Family cartoon series, which ran in several magazines between 1956 and 1988. Included are rough draft copies through finished drawings, some with color overlays returned by publishers. In addition, there are individual cartoons, store advertisements, other promotional materials, and rough and finished drawings for nearly all of the couple’s approximately 30 pre-Bear book projects. The archive also includes early examples of Berenstain Bears drawings and animation cells from 1980s-era Berenstain Bears television specials. (See also the Berenstain Bears Collection in The Strong’s National Museum of Play.)

Dungeons & Dragons Collection, 1971–2013

In addition to nearly 500 different artifacts related to pen-and-paper and electronic versions of Dungeons & Dragons, The Strong owns dozens of rare early documents related to the formative years of its publisher, TSR, Inc. Founded by Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, Don Kaye, and Brian Blume, TSR—originally Tactical Studies Rules and later TSR Hobbies—revolutionized the world of gaming with its products. Materials in The Strong's Dungeons & Dragons Collection help document the evolution of the company and its products. Included are numerous issues of magazines, such as The Dragon, Strategic Review, and White Dwarf, intended for serious role-playing gamers during the 1970s and 1980s, as well as trade catalogs, works of fiction, and other publications.  Archival holdings include significant documents, such as TSR in-house newsletters and GENCON conference information packets which belonged to Gary Gygax, as well as correspondence and other materials related to Dungeons & Dragons from former TSR employees, important game designers, and influential gamers.

Fields of Play Film Series

This collection includes five historic documentary films produced for the BBC in 1981–1982 by acclaimed British filmmaker Mike Dibb. For more than 40 years Dibb explored international cultural themes ranging from art, music, and dance to theater, movies, and sports. Along the way he explored the work and contributions of such leading, and wide-ranging, figures as Picasso, John Ruskin, Octavio Paz, Miles Davis, John Ford, Buster Keaton, and Studs Terkel. Dibb’s Fields of Play series leads off with extensive footage of Brian Sutton-Smith discussing his scholarly work on play. Other films in the series include Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and other scholars. Shot in both the U.S. and Britain, the films examine play in conjunction with learning, creativity, work, leisure, and other topics from sports to gambling and war games. Individual titles include Plays of Meaning, Playing the Odds, Work and Play, Playing Ball, and Playing for Real.

View the Fields of Play Film Series finding aid.

Lella Gandini Early Childhood and Children's Folklore Collection, 1802–2012

An early childhood educator since the mid 1970s, Lella Gandini is the United States Liaison for the Dissemination of the Reggio Emilia Approach. Early in her career she collaborated with Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emila approach in her native northern Italy, and subsequently she studied and worked in the United States. She is co-editor of the comprehensive Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood and has written and spoken widely in both countries on children’s learning environments, bedtime rituals, children’s fears, children’s clothing, nursery rhymes, parent-child-teacher relationships, folklore, and other topics. The collection includes examples of her own publications; scores of other works on early childhood education and related topics; and a compilation of research notes, presentations, and other documents used by Gandini throughout her career. Some materials are in English, some are in Italian, and some are in other languages.

View the Lella Gandini Early Childhood and Children's Foklore Collection finding aid.

Gruelle Family Collection, 1880s–2008

This collection documents the development of the Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls by their creator, popular early-20th-century children’s illustrator Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938). The bulk of the collection dates from the first half of the 1900s and consists of manuscripts, graphic materials, publications, correspondence, photographs, and miscellaneous items related to the Gruelle family. Personal items of Gruelle family members Johnny Gruelle, Myrtle Gruelle, Worth Gruelle, Suzanne Gruelle, Justin Gruelle, and Joni Gruelle Wannamaker are also included.

Philip E. Orbanes Papers, 1905–2012

Philip E. Orbanes spent more than a decade leading research and development teams at Parker Brothers and is widely recognized as the foremost authority on Monopoly and Parker Brothers. The collection contains personal and business records that chronicle Orbanes’s 30-year career at Parker Brothers, Ideal, and his own company, Gamescience. Also included are materials related to his numerous connections in the game industry, such as Sid Sackson, plus rare documents from George Parker and his two brothers.

View the Philip E. Orbanes Collection finding aid.
See also the Philip E. Orbanes Collection in the National Museum of Play.

Vivian Gussin Paley Papers, 1973–2010

Vivian Gussin Paley is a noted preschool and kindergarten teacher; early childhood education researcher, writer, and lecturer; and advocate for the importance of play for young children. She has documented her work, methods, and beliefs in unique and powerful fashion through 13 widely read and influential books, most of which she wrote while teaching at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. This collection includes autographed copies of Paley’s books (in English and in other languages); reviews of her books; reviews by Paley of other books; articles by and about her; speeches; some correspondence; numerous clippings; items related to conferences, workshops, and symposia; and audio-visual materials related to presentations.

View the Vivian Gussin Paley Papers finding aid.

Anthony Pellegrini Papers, 1972–2008

Anthony Pellegrini has studied, written about, and taught educational psychology for more than 40 years, principally at the University of Georgia and University of Minnesota. During that time, he has written, co-written, edited, or co-edited more than a dozen books, 70 chapters in other books, and 140 articles in scholarly journals. He has also delivered dozens of invited talks and colloquia and other presentations. Through this work, Pellegrini has examined in particular such topics as recess, playground behavior, rough-and-tumble play, and play and literacy. This collection includes the bulk of his writings and his research files on work by other scholars.

C. J. Rogers Papers, 1993­­­­–present

C. J. Rogers, a psychologist and behavioral ecologist, lives with wolves and studies their societies at a licensed research sanctuary in northwestern New Mexico. Having examined the emotional dynamics of wolf packs, she holds that wolves are sociable, companionable, nurturing beings who possess an appetite for mischief and a fully developed joy in play. Rogers’s work, which is ongoing, already is the most detailed long-term study of pack behavior yet conducted. It is summarized in an interview in The Strong’s American Journal of Play, volume 3, number 1. Eventually this collection will include all her field notebooks, video and audio tapes, photographs, manuscripts, and other items documenting her life’s work. Included initially are manuscripts, clippings, miscellaneous documents, and copies of research materials. Some restrictions apply regarding access to these materials.

Sid Sackson Collection, 1867–2000

The bulk of this collection covers the period 1960–1995 and represents essentially the complete professional archive of game designer, collector, consultant, and author Sid Sackson (1920-2002), who created more than 500 games. Most notable among the 50 or so he brought to market are Acquire, Can't Stop, Sleuth, Focus, Bazaar, Metropolis, Monad, Take Five, and Venture. Sackson meticulously documented his game design processes, and the collection includes his diaries plus game descriptions and rules, writings, newspaper and magazine clippings, correspondence, some photographs, and miscellaneous books, periodicals, and trade catalogs. (Note: The Strong’s National Museum of Play holds 330 three-dimensional game prototypes made by Sackson. See Sid Sackson Prototypes Collection.)

View the Sid Sackson Collection finding aid.

Brian Sutton-Smith Papers, 1949–2009

This collection documents six decades of play-related research, teaching, and writing by Brian Sutton-Smith, 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 the major advancements in play studies. His papers include notes, data, manuscripts, reprints, correspondence, clippings, and some photographs and reflect his interdisciplinary research and writing in psychology, education, and folklore and his teaching at Bowling Green University, Teachers College at Columbia University, and the University of Pennsylvania. (See also the Brian Sutton-Smith Collection among the library and archives’ library holdings.)

View the Brian Sutton-Smith Papers finding aid.

Toyland Digital Video Archive

This archive contains approximately 65 hours of filmed interviews with notable American toy and game inventors and developers. Conducted by filmmakers Tim Walsh and Ken Sons during research for their hour-long 2010 documentary film Toyland, the footage includes conversations with, among others, Betty James (Slinky), Eddie Goldfarb (Yakity-Yak chattering teeth and Kerplunk), Burt Meyer (Lite Brite and Mouse Trap), John Spinello (Operation), Milt Levine (Ant Farm), Kay Zufall (Play-Doh), and Reyn Guyer (Twister and Nerf). Also included are interviews with students at Otis College of Art and Design and with seasoned toy veterans from Big Monster Toys, Hasbro, and Mattel. The copyrighted interviews are available for historical content research on site but are not available for commercial use. 

View the Toyland Digital Video Archive finding aid.