August 21, 2006

Creative Playthings And The Rise Of Creativity

I wonked out a bit this weekend, surfing around through some academic work on toys and children's books, starting with Bard professor Amy F. Ogata's paper from Winterthur Portfolio, vol. 39 [2005] titled, appropriately/confusingly enough, "Creative Playthings." A reader first clued me in to this history of educational toy companies like CP and Playskool a few months back, when I was poking around into DWR's knockoff of the Creative Playthings Hobby Horse. Ogata made the first correction I'd ever seen of the date for the horse, which Vitra and other sources put at 1950-55 [Ogata points out it didn't show up in CP catalogues before the mid-60's.]

Ogata's working on a book about post-WWII childhood that, as the Smithsonian describes:

"...will focus on how the concept of creativity emerged as a dominant social value in the 1950s and '60s, influencing a vast array of educational and play spaces, toys, books, and other amusements designed to stimulate intelligence. Utilizing a variety of museum collections, from childhood toys in the Home and Community Life collections to archival resources such as the Binney and Smith (Crayola) papers, Ogata will examine how the idea of creativity emerged in the mid-twentieth century and how it became inscribed upon postwar childhood, contributing to our understanding of creativity as a historical subject.
Sounds awesome, even if it does turn out we're still just copying the baby boomers.

Previously: Time looks at educational toys--in 1964

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