On September 21, 2018, members of the Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) visited the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. Director of Libraries, Beth Lathrop, began the day by giving the committee an overview of the research library which hold 199,000 volumes of journals, research papers, books, trade catalogs and other archival ephemera. It is the only research repository dedicated to the intellectual, social, and cultural history of play. Researchers on play and the gaming industry travel from around the world to visit the library and archives which accepts visitors by appointment only. The site also offers a Fellowship to researchers in the growing fields of gaming and play studies.
Next, Cataloger Tara Winner-Swete gave the committee a behind the scenes look at the closed stacks and cataloging areas. Much of the cataloging performed in original based on the rarity of some of the items in the collections. Items on display for the visit included a 1973 Fisher Price trade toy catalog and the 1978 Star Wars toy preview.
Archivist Julia Novakovic finished up the tour with a presentation on the archives of the library. The archives holds many of the papers of play and gaming leaders as well as the product details of the early video game industry. She also discussed the founding of the museum by Margaret Woodbury Strong whose personal papers reside in the archives. Items on display from the archives included the pieces from the Atari archives involving the creation of Asteroids; Harrison Erickson designs for Muppets, puppets, and mascots; and documents related to Hasbro’s adoption for the British game Cluedo known to American audiences as Clue.
The visit ended with RAC taking some time in the museum’s inviting environs before heading to meetings and lunch.
– Keri Thomas-Whiteside