Black doll

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Various antique to modern Black dolls from the collection of Debbie Garrett

A black doll is a doll of a black person. Representations, both stereotypical and realistic, fashioned into playthings, date back centuries. More accurate, mass-produced depictions are manufactured today as toys and adult collectibles.

European manufacture[edit]

Several 19th-century European doll companies preceded American doll companies in manufacturing black dolls. These predecessors include Carl Bergner of Germany, who made a three-faced doll with one face a crying black child and the other two, happier white faces. In 1892, Jumeau of Paris advertised black and mixed race dolls with bisque heads. Gebruder Heubach of Germany made character faces in bisque. Other European doll makers include Bru Jne. & Cie of Paris, Steiner, Danel, Société Française de Fabrication de Bébés et Jouets (S.F.B.J.), and Kestner of Germany.

American manufacture[edit]

Ad for the Negro Doll Company, Nashville, Tennessee, 1908

American companies began including black dolls in their doll lines in the early 1900s. Between 1910 and 1930, Horsman, Vogue, and Madame Alexander included black dolls in their doll lines. Gradually other American companies followed suit.

Beatrice Wright Brewington, an African American entrepreneur, founded B. Wright's Toy Company, Inc. and mass-produced black dolls with ethnically correct features. Also an educator, Wright began instructing girls in the art of making dolls in 1955.

During the 1960s and in the aftermath of the Watts Riots in Los Angeles, California, Shindana Toys, a Division of Operation Bootstrap, Inc., is credited as the first major doll company to mass-produce ethnically-correct[1] black dolls in the United States.

Other popular collectible black dolls include manufactured play dolls past and current, manufactured dolls designed for collectors by companies such as Madame Alexander and Tonner Doll, artist dolls, one-of-a-kind dolls, portrait dolls and those representing historical figures, reborn dolls, and paper dolls. In addition, American Girl has also released black dolls portraying girls of color from various points in American history such as Addy Walker and civil rights-era Melody Ellison, as well as those from the present day.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ MIBDH: The Shindana Story and One of Its Main Characters (retrieved May 5, 2017), The Shindana Story, Originally printed in the March/April 1990 issue of Doll-E-Gram, published by Lavern E. Hall
  • Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide 1820-1991 by Myla Perkins
  • The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls by Debbie Behan Garrett
  • Philadelphia Doll Museum Webpage "History of Dolls" stored at the Internet Archive

Further reading[edit]

  • Collectible Black Dolls by John Axe, Hobby House Press, 1978
  • Collector's Encyclopedia of Black Dolls by Patikii Gibbs, Collector Books, 1987
  • Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide 1820-1991 by Myla Perkins, Collector Books, 1991
  • Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide Book II by Myla Perkins, Collector Books, 1995
  • The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls by Debbie Behan Garrett, Hobby House Press, 2003
  • Black Dolls Proud, Bold & Beautiful by Nayda Rondon, Reverie Press, 2004
  • Collectible African American Dolls Identification and Values by Yvonne Ellis, Collector Books, 2008
  • Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating Collecting and Experiencing the Passion by Debbie Behan Garrett, 2008
  • "The Scripts of Black Dolls" in Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights, by Robin Bernstein, 2011
  • See also Robin Bernstein, Children's Books, Dolls, and the Performance of Race; or, The Possibility of Children's Literature, PMLA 126.1 (2011): 160-169.

External links[edit]