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Stuart Brown papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 117.117
The Stuart Brown papers document five decades of play-related research, collaboration, and writing by one of the most prominent figures in the scholarship of play today. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1966 and 1967 and again from 1986-2011. The papers include the following print pieces: professional manuscripts, publications and drafts, research materials, notes, correspondence, and photos with negatives. (Also part of this collection are a variety of audiovisual media types, including audiocassette tapes, VHS tapes, Beta tapes, MiniDV tapes, 3.5” floppy disks, zip drives, DVDs, and Digital Audio Tapes.)

The collection reflects Brown’s 50 years of experience in the field starting with the Charles J. Whitman Texas Tower case in 1966. The information in the collection supports Brown’s research in psychology and his contribution to the study of play, specifically how play influences people throughout their lives. Additional information can be found in the Contents List section below.

The Stuart Brown papers are been arranged into three series, all of which have been divided into further subseries. The papers have been housed in 22 archival document boxes and three oversized folders, with audiovisual/digital materials housed in 19 additional boxes.


  • 1929 - 2016
  • Majority of material found within 1966 - 1967
  • Majority of material found within 1986 - 2011



The materials in this collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Audiovisual and digital materials, including audio interviews and video footage, are restricted to on-site only access with required advanced notice for providing playback equipment. Some audiovisual or digital materials (including those in Series II) may not be permitted to be played upon closer inspection by library staff or the museum’s conservator due to preservation reasons.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) have not been transferred, The Strong has permission to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


29 Linear Feet (22 boxes, 3 oversized folders, 19 media boxes)


The Stuart Brown papers are a compilation of materials about the Charles Whitman University of Texas Tower case, professional publications and correspondence, research materials on play and human behavior, and audio-visual materials. The collection also contains publication materials, conference presentations, correspondence, and notes created or recorded by Stuart Brown throughout his career in psychiatry and the study of play. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1966-1967 and also 1986-2011.

Biographical Note

Dr. Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Institute of Play, spent fifty years exploring the benefits of play. He researched types of play and how play affects humans and animals. He also studied play deprivation and its connections with violence, looking for causes and prevention. Brown shared his findings through published materials, television programming, conferences, speaking engagements, radio appearances, and resources at the National Institute of Play.

Brown started his career at Wheaton College where he earned his B.S. degree. He went on to train in general and internal medicine, psychiatry, and clinical research. He received an internal medicine fellowship the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After his fellowship he went to Waco, Texas, where he became the Assistant Dean of Baylor University and a resident in psychiatry. He went on to become the founding Clinical Director and Chief of Psychiatry at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center and associate Professor at UCSD in San Diego. While at Baylor University in 1966, Governor John Connally asked Dr. Brown to join the Fact Finding Task Force as a consulting psychiatrist for the Charles J. Whitman Texas Tower Case. (At that time, the case was considered the largest mass murder in U.S. history.) The case prompted Brown to further investigate violence, starting with a study of a group of young male murderers and drunk drivers. He continued his research on the role that play deprivation plays in violent persons.

Over the course of his career, Brown interviewed more than 8,000 people about their play behavior and explored links between play and success as an adult. After leaving his clinical career in 1989, he pursued play research further by looking for links between animal and human play behavior. He acquired information from animal experts who shared their discoveries about animal play. Brown also corresponded with Brian Sutton-Smith and other play scholars to continue the exploration of play and its importance to human development.

As of 2017, Brown continues to be involved with the National Institute for Play.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Charles J. Whitman case, 1929-1987

Subseries A: Charles J. Whitman’s academic and military materials, 1959-1966
Subseries B: Police reports, 1966
Subseries C: Interviews, 1966-1972
Subseries D: Correspondence, 1966-1968
Subseries E: Medical evaluations, 1966-1970
Subseries F: Publications, 1966-1980
Subseries G: Miscellaneous research materials, 1929-1987

Series II: Professional papers, 1962-2016

Subseries A: Stuart Brown, 1985-2016
Subseries B: Brian Sutton-Smith, 1962-2004
Subseries C: Audiovisual and digital materials, 1999-2000

Series III: Play research materials, 1969-2015

Subseries A: Research materials and notes, 1969-2015
Subseries B: Play scholar research, 1972-2012

Custodial History

The Stuart Brown papers were acquired by The Strong in December 2016 from Stuart Brown. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 117.117 and were received from Stuart Brown in 21 boxes.

Processed by

Christine Gates, June-November 2017
Finding Aid to the Stuart Brown Papers, 1929-2016
Christine Gates and Julia Novakovic
27 November 2017
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)