Little Known Black History Fact: The Oldest Black Dolls

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  • On display at the convention for the United Federation of Doll Clubs this year are African-American dolls that were made between 1850-1870. Twelve hundred collectors gathered in New Orleans to view the most unique doll collections in the world, including those belonging to former slaves. Among the collection are dolls that have no legs but two heads, one of them white and the other black. The doll has a two-sided skirt that reveals the black or white side. The dolls were sewn together by black women who worked for white families. Depending on the race of the adults in the room, the black or the white side of the doll was shown.

    Though the materials used to make the dolls would have more than likely perished over the time period, hundreds of the dolls were sold and preserved to raise money for William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper called The Liberator.

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