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Doll Oral History Project collection

 Collection — Box: 1-8
Identifier: 1987.doll
The Doll Oral History Project collection contains project reports, lists of participants, oral history recordings, transcripts of interviews, photographs of dolls [from both the museum collections and family photographs of participants], and photographs of participants in the project.


  • 1986-1989


Conditions Governing Access

Grant-related files in Box 1 are restricted to staff members of The Strong only. Other files, including final reports, participant lists, and publications, are open for access.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open to research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. [Restrictions are indicated in Conditions Governing Access.]


4 Linear Feet (8 boxes-- 7 boxes open for research use; 1 box contains selected files restricted to museum staff only)


The Doll Oral History Project collection is a compilation of oral history audio cassettes, transcripts, photographs, and final reports on this project from Summer/Fall 1987, administered by Dorothy Washburn.

Historical Note

Dorothy Washburn, an independent museum consultant, developed a "public involvement" project for the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum in 1987. This oral history project selected the museum's doll collection as stimuli to prompt memories from women who had played with dolls between 1900 and 1940. With funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, Washburn conducted a four-month series of interviews with 97 area women.

Participants were interviewed in front of a display containing a selection of dolls from the decade in which they played with dolls. They were asked to identify dolls that were similar or identical to their own playthings and asked how they played with them. Then, the women were asked to sort a series of photographs two ways: by the dolls which they preferred and disliked, and by the way they thought of the dolls during play. Many participants also brought their own dolls to the museum and were able to share family photographs for the museum's reference. This public involvement program provided useful information for the museum. The participants became aware of how the ordinary items which they possessed had much to tell about history.


Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)