Eighteenth-century European board and card games often had an educational aspect, offering lessons in history, geography or even military tactics and strategy. The Institute’s collections feature a number of games designed to teach young officers-in-training, or the general public, basic concepts of warfare on land and at sea. Several of the games in the collections are based on the medieval Game of the Goose, a traditional form of board game in which the players’ progress is determined by rolling dice and following the instructions on the spaces where they land.

In early America, toys and games provided amusements for Revolutionary War soldiers and tools for teaching children about American history. The collections include chess and whist game pieces owned by Continental Army officers, as well as a “Historiscope,” a scrolling, three-dimensional history of colonial and Revolutionary America made by Milton Bradley & Co. in the mid-nineteenth century.