OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION
Title: Bob Rule Papers
Collection Date(s): circa 1950-2002, undated
Extent and Forms of Material: 1 cubic foot, including photographs (4 boxes)
Creator: Bob Rule
Abstract: Materials document Bob Rule’s career as a yo-yo demonstrator, expert, promoter and contest winner.
Collection Number: AC0855
Processing Note: Processed by Danleigh H. Kaplan (intern), 2006; supervised by Vanessa Broussard-Simmons, archivist.
INFORMATION FOR USERS OF THE COLLECTION
Conditions Governing Access: The collection is open for research use.
Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Copyright held by the Smithsonian Institution. Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: fees for commercial use. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff.
Preferred Citation: Title and date of item, Bob Rule Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, box number x, folder number xx, digital file number xxxxxxxx
IN-DEPTH INFORMATION ABOUT THE COLLECTION
Biographical History: Bob Rule grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and began yo-yoing as a young boy in 1948. He entered his first yo-yo contest in 1949 and in 1952, began working part-time for Donald F. Duncan, Incorporated managing yo-yo contests and demonstrations in the Detroit area. In 1955, he went to work full-time for Duncan as a professional yo-yo demonstrator. In this role, he traveled across the United States and to Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico demonstrating yo-yo tricks, managing yo-yo contests, and appearing on local television stations to promote the Duncan line of yo-yos and spinning tops. In 1960, he began calling himself “Mr. Yo-Yo” and eventually trademarked the name in 1970.
He left Duncan when the company went out of business in 1965 and settled in Atlanta, Georgia, with his family where he went into the slot car racing business. He owned Champion Slot Racing Products, which he eventually merged with another company he founded, BoLINK Industries, a radio control car racing company. Bob Rule also founded KIEVE Enterprises, a public relations firm with a division by the name of Yo-Yo Promotions. This division combined Rule’s yo-yoing skills with sales pitches for various companies that hired him to advertise their products or entertain their employees and/or customers.
From 1970 to 1973, Bob Rule went back to work as a yo-yo demonstrator in connection with the Union Wadding Company of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Although he was not on their payroll, Rule demonstrated their line of Festival yo-yos.
Rule prides himself on the confidence and presentation skills he acquired throughout his career as a yo-yo professional. He believes that these skills laid the foundation for the success he experienced in other aspects of his life. Rule and his second wife Elleda (his first wife Kathy died of cancer in 1988) reside in Duluth, Georgia, where he continues to promote the yo-yo by attending yo-yo contests, staying in contact with other yo-yo personalities, and hosting a website that documents his career as a yo-yo professional, www.mryoyo.com.
Scope and Content: The collection documents the career of Bob Rule as a professional demonstrator and promoter of yo-yos and spinning tops for Donald F. Duncan Yo-Yo Company, Incorporated, the Union Wadding Company, and his own KIEVE Enterprises. Materials in this collection include photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbook pages, correspondence, manuals, and other business records. The bulk of this collection consists of photographs and newspaper clippings that document the promotional events and contests he managed between 1960 and 1970. Materials found in this collection would be useful to those interested in the history of toys and recreation in general, as well as the history and promotional strategies of Duncan Yo-Yo Company, Incorporated.
Series 1, Personal Papers, circa 1950s–2002, undated, includes correspondence, biographical narratives, clippings, photographs, and other papers associated with the personal life and professional career of Bob Rule. Photographs in this series are mostly of Rule demonstrating yo-yos and spinning tops, but also present are photographs of Rule posing with specialized cars, his family and friends, and of social events attended by Rule. Correspondence in this series focuses on business matters including his book Yo-Yo Secrets and letters from children in response to a promotional event aired on television in 1963 and 1964. The correspondence and photographs are arranged in chronological order when possible.
Series 2, Duncan Yo-Yo Company, Incorporated, circa 1955–1964, undated, include field manuals, trade literature, business cards of Duncan employees, clippings, and photographs. The newspaper clippings in this series are about the business ventures and employees of Duncan Yo-Yo Company, Inc. Photographs are mostly of Duncan top and yo-yo displays in the 1950s and 1960s, but photographs of the Duncan factory in Luck, Wisconsin, and Duncan employees are also present. Materials in this series are arranged chronologically when possible.
Series 3, Promotional Events and Competitions, circa 1950s–1990s, undated, comprise of photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, event itineraries, and other printed material associated with promotional events and yo-yo competitions attended and managed by Bob Rule across the United States and in Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The itineraries, rules, rosters, and programs associated with various local, regional, and national competitions are present. Many of these materials were originally included in a scrapbook, which was disassembled and scattered throughout the collection prior to the collection coming to the Museum. Materials in this series are arranged chronologically when possible.
Series 4, Other Yo-Yo Professionals, circa 1955–2000, undated, consists of photographs and clippings that document the careers of other yo-yo experts and contest winners. Also included are various group photographs of yo-yo personalities, many include Bob Rule. A minimal number of pages from Rule’s personal website (www.mryoyo.com) that detail the materials found in this series are also present. Files are arranged alphabetically by last name and by date within the folder when possible.
System of Arrangement: Arranged in four series:
Series 1, Personal Papers, circa 1950s–2002, undated
Acquisition Information: The collection was donated to the Museum by Bob Rule in 2003.
Related Archival Materials: The Archives Center also holds the Duncan Family Yo- Yo Collection, 1928-2002.
Related Artifacts: There are a number of yo-yos in the Division of Work and Industry collections.