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Ron Dubren papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 111.7048
The Ron Dubren papers contain materials from 1975 through 2008, with the bulk of the material dated between 1980 and 2002. This collection comprises business records from Ron Dubren & Associates, toy and game designs, notes, game advertisements, graphics, sample paper game components, correspondence, receipts, newspapers articles, VHS cassettes, and more. Within Series II (Toy and game designs) are notes, drawings, sketches, graphics, sample paper prototypes, and other papers documenting Dubren’s creative process during his career in the game industry. Additional scope and content information is listed for each series under the “Contents List” section of this finding aid.

The Ron Dubren papers are arranged into seven series, two of which are further divided into subseries. The physical collection is housed in 31 archival document boxes. Digital files comprise one series, located on the internal network of The Strong.


  • 1975 - 2008
  • Majority of material found within 1981 - 2002


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, he has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


15.25 Linear Feet (31 boxes)

2.2 Megabytes (Digital files) : Accessible on-site at The Strong.


The Ron Dubren papers are a compilation of correspondence, game designs, notes, drawings, product descriptions, and paper prototypes created by Ron Dubren throughout his career in the toy and game industry. This collection also includes reference materials and an oral history recorded in 2008. The bulk of the materials are dated from 1980 through 2002.

Biographical Note

Ron Dubren is an American toy and game designer, author, and artist. Dubren grew up in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the University of Wisconsin for his undergraduate degree in Physiological Psychology. In 1965, Dubren moved to New York City to further his education at New York University. While studying for his doctorate, Dubren became attracted to the New York art scene and in nurturing his creative side. He joined the American Health Foundation as a research psychologist in 1973. Two years later, he received his PhD in Clinical Psychology. In 1978, Dubren decided to leave the field of psychology for more artistic pursuits.

As Dubren worked on his writing, he realized his talent for creating word puzzles. He became a self-employed feature puzzle writer, selling his creations to various syndicates for publication in newspapers. Finding success with word puzzles, Dubren next focused his attention on strategy and board games. He attended the American International Toy Fair (commonly referred to as the New York Toy Fair) in 1980 to learn the ropes of the game industry. That same year, Dubren founded Ron Dubren & Associates (RDA) to develop and license original products. He soon sold his first creation: Chinese Chess. Dubren concentrated mainly on games during the 1980s, successfully selling dozens of inventions. He also worked on developing video games, computer games, and VCR games. Dubren continually attended the annual Toy Fair and provided consulting services for other game design firms.

In the 1990s, Dubren shifted his attention to toys and the possibility of incorporating new technology into their design. In these endeavors, he collaborated with several electrical engineers, including Greg Hyman. By 1992, Dubren and Hyman had formed a partnership which ultimately resulted in the wildly popular Tickle Me Elmo doll. Following the Tickle Me Elmo sensation, Dubren and Hyman developed spin-offs of the doll, featuring other Sesame Street characters and various versions of moving/talking Elmos. Since 2008, Dubren has shifted his attention to writing and creating art, though he is still active in product development for the toy and game industry.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Ron Dubren & Associates corporate records, 1979-2004

Subseries A: Correspondence
Subseries B: Company history
Subseries C: Contacts
Subseries D: Meeting notes and conferences
Subseries E: Publicity
Subseries F: Product development
Subseries G: Miscellaneous files

Series II: Toy and game designs, 1975-2006

Subseries A: Crossword puzzles
Subseries B: Board games and card games
Subseries C: Computer and video games
Subseries D: Dolls and toys
Subseries E: Telephone programs
Subseries F: VCR games
Subseries G: Books
Subseries H: Candy and food novelties
Subseries I: Other designs

Series III: Television game show plans, 1980-2001

Series IV: Toy/game company information, 1979-2002

Series V: Reference materials, 1983-1994

Series VI: Oral history, 2008

Series VII: Digital files, 1985-1995

Custodial History

The Ron Dubren papers were donated to The Strong in December 2011 as a gift from Ron Dubren, accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 111.7048. The papers were received from Ron Dubren in about 25 cubic feet of boxes containing papers, books, and toy/game catalogs. The same accession also included several hundred toy and game prototypes, video games, and board games.

Revision description

Added archival materials found in trade catalog donation in November 2016.


Finding Aid to the Ron Dubren Papers
Julia Novakovic
17 July 2013
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)