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By the Numbers: Toys

A catalog from the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play
A catalog from the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play in Rochester, New York.

Number of volumes available at the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, located at Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. The museum is also home to the National Toy Hall of Fame. The library houses books, catalogs, personal papers, design documents, oral history projects, and other research material relating to the study of toys and games.

Number of stuffed animals that showed up for Goleta Valley (Calif.) Library’s 2022 stuffed animal sleepover program. Many public libraries host similar sleepovers; children drop off their favorite stuffies and library workers document their stays with photos of the activities—and hijinks—they get into.

Year the country’s oldest continually operating toy library, the Los Angeles County (Calif.) Toy Loan Program (LACTLP), was founded. Today, more than 400 toy libraries exist across the US. While some are part of public libraries, others—like LACTLP—are associated with local government or social service organizations.

Number of Black Barbie dolls that Meek-Eaton Black Archives Research Center and Museum at Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee featured around campus ahead of the release of the Barbie movie this past summer. The dolls, whose photos were shared on FAMU’s social media, represented mathematician Katherine Johnson, jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, poet Maya Angelou, and TV show character Julia Baker (played by Diahann Carroll).

Number of items in the National Toy Train Library (NTTL). NTTL, located at the National Toy Train Museum in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, is run by the Train Collectors Association. NTTL’s collection includes books, catalogs, print advertisements, photos, and other materials covering the history and characteristics of toy and model trains.

Number of dolls and puppets in the Caroline Kennedy Doll Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. The toys, gifted to Caroline from 1961 to 1963, were from 30 countries, and many were state gifts from national leaders or first ladies. The collection includes clay dolls from India, a kachina doll representing Indigenous US culture, a palace guard doll from Princess Grace of Monaco, and a playhouse from then–first lady of France, Jacqueline de Gaulle.

Debut year of Beanie Babies plush toys. The Beanie Babies Collection at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University’s Browne Popular Culture Library (BPCL) features a box of the famous stuffed animals from the first year of release to 2006. BCPL also collects materials spanning the rise and fall of the Beanie Babies craze, including handbooks and fan magazines.

Number of toy soldiers in the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection at Brown University Library in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown—a historian and military memorabilia collector who married into the school’s famous namesake family—started purchasing the miniatures in 1930 while traveling across Europe

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