By: Carol Anderson
Throughout history, dolls have always been a part of a young girl's
childhood. All of us can remember the hours of enjoyment that a favorite
doll may have given us. We may still have that doll in our adult lives,
carefully tucked away, which we long ago decided was too precious for us to
just pass along.
Dolls have always truly reflected so much throughout history, whether it
be social or financial changes or a mere change in fashion. Many dolls
have not survived since they were not meant to become "collectibles". They
were made to be used and enjoyed throughout childhood but not kept beyond
that. As America gained its independence from England in 1776, girls no
doubt would have a favorite doll. Since so many children in the 1700's
didn't survive, dolls served a very sad purpose. Dolls were used to
illustrate to children what would happen when a sibling would pass away.
On a lighter note, dolls were also used by milliners of the time to show
off a new fashion, but on a smaller scale.
Dolls from the 1800's were perhaps the most charming of all, mostly
because they were the true "homespun" dolls; dolls that were made from
items that were no longer of any use to the family. Corn husk and wooden
dolls, and the ever-popular rag dolls were commonplace. Paper dolls also
had a special place during this time as girls could cut papers dolls from
used pieces of brown paper or even an old newspaper.
Rag dolls were still popular in the 1900's as the famous rag dolls,
Raggedy Ann and Andy were patented in 1915. With the invention of
mass-production and modern materials such as vinyl and plastic, a whole new
group of dolls came into vogue. The most easily-recognized American doll,
the Barbie doll, made her appearance in the 1950's. She was and still is a
true fashion doll and her wardrobe has changed as many times as clothing
designers have changed ours. Boys were not forgotten when it came to
modern dolls. The Ken doll, as well as G.I. Joe, complete with military
accessories, were designed just for them.
Keeping in mind that dolls so carefully reflect history, Thompson-Ames
Historical Society (T-AHS) has decided to celebrate the importance of dolls
throughout history during the months of June and July. T-AHS board
members, Carol Anderson and Diane Mitton, have created an historical
display of dolls which will be featured in the Children's Room of Gilford
Public Library for the entire month of June. Some of the dolls on display
will be a wooden penny doll, the lovable Raggedy Ann & Andy, as well as, of
course, Barbie and Ken.
Also on display will be the American Girl Doll, Felicity (circa 1774),
this year's T-AHS raffle doll made by the American Girl Doll Company.
T-AHS proudly supports the American Girl Doll Company as one of the main
goals of this company is to teach girls history. Just as Barbie did in the
l950's and beyond, the American Girl doll has become wildly popular as a
childhood doll and as a very collectible doll. With each of its period
dolls, the American Girl Doll Company offers history books, story books,
and a vintage wardrobe.
T-AHS will raffle Felicity later this year and included with the doll
will be a journal written by Dot Pangburn and illustrated by Diane Alting's
third-grade class from Gilford Elementary School. Carol Anderson has
designed a complete wardrobe for Felicity which includes mob caps, a work
dress, apron and decorative shawl, a nightgown, as well Felicity's familiar
hooded red cloak. To round out the accessories for Felicity, T-AHS has
included a wooden travel chest and small travel items.
In order to help people celebrate wonderful childhood memories and
dolls, T-AHS is also featuring historic dolls at their "Heritage Arts and
Crafts Bees" during the months of June and July. Rag dolls and their
various wardrobes will be the focus of the Saturday, June 18th bee.
For July's bee (scheduled for Saturday, July 16th), the T-AHS woodworking
group, will have wooden penny dolls completed for anyone who would like to
join in and create their own wardrobe for one of these historical dolls.
Just as the girls in the 1800's learned their sewing skills by making
clothes for their penny dolls, we, too, can learn or improve our sewing
skills by designing for these dolls.
All participants in both of these bees are encouraged to bring in a
favorite doll to show, no matter what vintage the doll might be. The
Heritage Arts Bees, which include woodworking, are held every third
Saturday of each month, from 10 until noon at the Grange Building, 8
Belknap Mountain Road in Gilford Village. Light refreshments are served at
For more information or if you'd like to become a T-AHS volunteer, call
the Thompson-Ames Historical Society at 527-9009 or visit our website at
www.gilfordhistoricalsociety.org If you are not already on the T-AHS
mailing/e-mail list, do let us know your name and address as well as your
e-mail address and you will be included. Feel free to e-mail the
historical society at email@example.com or stop by and visit us when
the open flag is flying outside the Grange building.