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Bonnie Erickson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2018.erickson
The Bonnie Erickson papers contain materials from 1971 through 2017, with the bulk of the papers dated between 1978 and 1999. This collection holds design concepts and illustrations for licensed products (including goods featuring Sesame Street, Jim Henson’s Muppets, and Disney characters), prototype sketches, style guides, product tear sheets, catalog pages, publicity, notes, and other materials.

The Bonnie Erickson papers have been arranged into six series, one of which has been further divided into subseries. The physical materials are housed in 16 archival document boxes. Digital-only files can be accessed via the internal network of The Strong.


  • 1971 - 2017
  • Majority of material found within 1978 - 1999



The majority of materials in this collection are in English, with some examples of Spanish, French, German, and Japanese.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, she has given permission for The Strong to allow onsite research. All reproduction requests must have written approval from copyright holder.


13 Linear Feet (16 boxes)

11.1 Gigabytes (Digital materials) : Accessible on-site at The Strong.


The Bonnie Erickson papers are a compilation of design concepts, illustrations, style guides, product tear sheets, catalog pages, notes, publicity, and other information relating to licensed products and original concepts created by Erickson. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1978 and 1999.

Biographical Note

Bonnie Erickson is an American artist, inventor, and designer. She is best known for creating the iconic Muppet characters Miss Piggy, Statler, and Waldorf, as well as professional sports league mascots Phillie Phanatic (MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies) and Youppi! (currently with the NHL’s Montréal Canadiens), among others.

In 1970, Erickson joined Jim Henson’s Muppet workshop as a costume designer. Within a few years, she had already designed and built several new Muppet characters, including Miss Piggy. Erickson and her husband Wayde Harrison established their own production, design, and marketing company in 1977 called Harrison/Erickson, Inc. Together, Harrison and Erickson created characters for commercials, theater, and sports mascots. Erickson continued to consult on projects for the Jim Henson Company and Children’s Television Workshop (later, Sesame Workshop). She also developed toy and other product design concepts for licensed brands, such as Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.

Two years after the passing of Jim Henson, his widow Jane and several of Jim’s colleagues (Arthur Novell, Albert Gottesman, and Richard Wedemeyer) formed The Jim Henson Legacy. This organization dedicated itself to preserving and perpetuating Henson’s contributions to the worlds of puppetry, television, motion pictures, special effects, and media technology. Erickson joined the foundation as a trustee, and later, president; she also served as the executive director of the organization from 2010-2014.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Design concepts and illustrations, 1976-2017

Subseries A: Sesame Street
Subseries B: The Muppet Show
Subseries C: Disney
Subseries D:Where the Wild Things Are
Subseries E: Mascots
Subseries F: Other product lines

Series II: Style guides, 1971-2000

Series III: Product tear sheets and catalog pages, 1985-2000

Series IV: Publicity, 1992-2005

Series V: Jim Henson-related, 1993-1998

Harrison/Erickson historical information, 1978-c. 1990s

Custodial History

The Bonnie Erickson papers were donated to The Strong in 2016-2019 as a gift from Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, in memory of Christopher. The papers were received by The Strong in nine accession lots, including Object IDs 116.3344 (June 2016), 116.6525 (November 2016), 117.3038 (April 2017), 117.5333 (July 2017), 117.9495 (October 2017), 117.10918 (December 2017), 118.7553 (July 2018), 118.8607 (August 2018), and 119.4095 (July 2019). These materials were received from Bonnie Erickson, along with trade catalogs for the library and prototypes and production versions of toys for museum collections.

Related Materials

The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play houses more than a dozen trade catalogs from Erickson relating to the products depicted in her archival collection. The Strong also received fabric, plaster, and resin prototypes for both Erickson-designed and licensed products, including plush toys, toy figurines, and housewares.

Revision Note

This finding aid has been updated from its original iteration to reflect additional accessions received from Erickson in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Processed by

Julia Novakovic in November 2016; revised January 2018


Finding Aid to the Bonnie Erickson Papers, 1971-2017
Julia Novakovic
8 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)