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Doll Oral History Project collection

 Collection — Box: 1-8
Identifier: 1987.doll
The Doll Oral History Project collection is a compilation of project documentation, audiocassettes of oral history interviews, associated transcripts, photographs, and reports on this project administered by Dorothy Washburn for the Strong Museum in 1987.

The Doll Oral History Project collection has been arranged into five series, one of which has been further divided into subseries. The physical materials are housed in 8 archival document boxes. Digital files (transcript scans) are accessible via the internal network at The Strong or by request.


  • 1986-1994, 2019
  • Majority of material found in 1987, 2019


Conditions Governing Access

Grant-related files in Box 8 are restricted to staff members of The Strong only.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives.


4.3 Linear Feet (8 boxes)

700 Megabytes (Digital files)


The Doll Oral History Project collection is a compilation of oral history audio cassettes, transcripts, photographs, reports, and other documentation on this project from Summer/Fall 1987, administered by Dorothy Washburn for the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum. Oral history interview transcripts were digitized in 2019.

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 during 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, and the participants became aware of how the ordinary items which they possessed had much to tell about history.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Project files, 1986-1994

Series II: Oral histories, 1987-1988

Subseries A: Audio cassettes, 1987-1988
Subseries B: Transcripts, 1987

Series III: Photographs, 1987

Series IV: Restricted files, 1986-1989

Series V: Digital files, 2019

Custodial History

The Doll Oral History Project collection was developed by the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum (later, The Strong) in 1987.

Revision Note

This collection was formally arranged and described in August 2019.

Processed by

Doris C. Sturzenberger and Carol Sandler, c. 2000s; transcripts scanned by Cassidy Smith and Julia Novakovic, August 2019; arrangement and description of collection by Julia Novakovic, August 2019.


Finding Aid to the Doll Oral History Project Collection, 1986-1994, 2019
Julia Novakovic
28 August 2019
Description rules

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)