‘Wheel of Fortune,’ ‘Jeopardy!’ and More Game Shows’ History to Be Preserved at First-of-Its-Kind Archive

by Madison Miller

“Jeopardy! clue for 200: “This new archive is going to honor game shows’ place in American history.”

“What is the Strong National Museum of Play?”

Game shows hold a really special and unique place within the long history of television.

From difficult trivia to puzzles to gambling to energetic personalities to ordinary people winning truly extraordinary prizes, it’s all unlike anything else on TV. There’s no plot, no drama — it’s strictly about letting people feel like they can win big.

Game shows were even around before TV. People could tune into radio stations back in the 1920s and try to battle it out for $25. It seems like nothing now, especially as we watch people win houses or collect millions of dollars (take a look at iconic “Jeopardy!” contestant Ken Jennings).

‘Jeopardy!’ ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ Others to be Honored

According to the Associated Press, shows like “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” amongst many others, are getting a new spotlight in history. These shows will appear at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. The archive is co-founded by Howard Blumenthal and Bob Boden. The two are TV producers known for programs like “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” and “Funny You Should Ask.”

The goal is to get a recreative feeling of the game show experience. The National Archives of Game Show History will gather different set pieces, photos, props, ticket stubs, and any other form of memorabilia related to these game shows. It will join other similar collections commemorating parts of culture like the World Video Game Hall of Fame.

If this is making you feel like you need to immediately book a ticket to New York, not so fast. These artifacts won’t appear on display until 2023. The space is currently under renovation.

Seeking Game Show Artifacts

For those who have been on shows like “Jeopardy!” “Wheel of Fortune,” “The $10,000 Pyramid,” or any other show can actually donate materials. According to the New York Times, those with these kinds of materials can contact Chris Bensch, who works for the archive. He told the news site that he and others are hoping to walk away with some really amazing pieces. He’s hoping for one of Vanna White’s 7,000 dresses or even the letter board from “Wheel of Fortune.”

Shows like “Family Feud” and “The Price Is Right” will also be major talking points. As the space is developed, curators will interview anyone involved in the game show world — from producers to crew members to hosts.

Although the display is far from reality or drama television, there’s still some drama wrapped up in it all. Curators are hoping to get more information and artifacts from the 1950s when a cheating or rigging scandal nearly ended the legacy of game shows before they could truly start.

All of it makes us miss the late legendary host of “Jeopardy!” for 37 years, Alex Trebek, who perhaps loved game shows more than anyone else. He had donated a buzzer and a script with his handwritten notes on it over to the Smithsonian Institution prior to passing away in November. According to Smithsonian Magazine, Trebek once said that his show and others are successful because they dip into the powerful feeling of the American dream.