“Game Changers” on display this Spring

Fun and games in the library!

The spring exhibit by Special Collections, Game Changers, focuses on vintage entertainments from the 19th- and 20th-centuries, exploring their historical significance as cultural artifacts and technologies of yore. From innovations in printing and manufacturing to technological advancements in media and the changing landscape of popular culture, these relics of entertainment offer historical insights and trace the origins of our modern diversions.

The library atrium features handheld dexterity games from the collection of the late emeritus trustee Alexander Hamilton Fulton, accompanied by Victorian era entertainments in the Harman Periodical Reading Room. Information on Fulton can be found in the display cases between Special Collections and Library 105.

In this handheld dexterity game, “The Bughouse,” “bugs” scuttle about evading capture by hammer, handgun, bow and arrow, and butterfly net. The title, a synonym for an asylum, along with the figures behind barred windows, suggest disturbing views about mental health.
The game, created in the 1920s-1930s by Bar-Zim Toy Manufacturing Company, New York, N.Y., reflects not only societal views of the time but also our present-day affinity for handheld formats (the dimensions of the game match exactly those of my iPhone screen).

From the 1926 Sears Roebuck catalog, a 98-cent stereoscope. “See the world and learn its history.”

(Photo courtesy of Samsung.com)

In addition to the dexterity puzzles on the main level, further immersive entertainment devices can be viewed on the lower level, from tunnel books to stereoscopes.