About the Dolls

Handmade Raggedy Ann circa 1920
Handmade Raggedy Ann circa 1920

Dolls and toys comprise an important segment of material folk culture and decorative arts produced in the New American Republic. Folk dolls are part of the greater whole. Therefore, it is important to evaluate each doll within the context of material culture and  the decorative arts produced during the time period in which the doll was created.

Ingenious artisans utilized common materials in unique ways. Popular styles and trends are integral components of the design of each doll. The selection of materials and method of construction were the result of the maker’s skill level, available materials, cultural,
and economic influences, and current fashion trends.

The social environment played a significant role in how makers perceived fellow members of society. That perception influenced their design. Dolls made with meticulous detail, provide informational features that assist with historical research. Folk dolls accurately
reflect the designer’s surroundings with an intuitive sense of place, within an historical time line.

Wooden Headed Doll
Wooden Headed Doll

Though made as playthings for children, period folk dolls and toys preserve material culture and the decorative arts in small scale. Doll makers were inspired. Naive artists rejoiced in the spirit of creativity and individuality. Judge folk dolls by the same standards as any other work of art. Evaluate the painted doll face using the same criteria you use to
judge a limner portrait. The piece must have design qualities which speak to your soul. Those are the qualities which matter.