Black Dolls from the Collection of Deborah Neff presents over 100 unique handmade dolls created between 1850 and 1940 that portray African American boys and girls, elegant young ladies and determined women of mature years. The dolls are believed to have been created by African Americans for children that they knew, members of their own families, as well as white children in their charge.
This exhibition also includes rare nineteenth- and twentieth-century photographs of dolls, clutched by their young owners, which provide a fascinating context for these cherished companions.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Black Dolls: Unique African American Dolls, 1850–1930 From the Collection of Deborah Neff presents over 100 unique handmade African American dolls made between 1850 and 1930 from the collection of Deborah Neff, a Connecticut-based collector and champion of vernacular art. Features rare vintage photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries, showing both black and white children holding, posing or playing with their dolls. The research done for this volume uncovered fascinating vernacular photographs of African American children holding white dolls and Caucasian children holding black dolls―but there was not a single image of an African American person holding a black doll. This complex combination of text and imagery has helped transform this book into a commentary about social mobility and racial identity conveyed through the untold story of these dolls. In an essay, renowned artist Faith Ringgold addresses the inherent prejudices of this work as well as her personal connection with the medium. Also included are essays by Pulitzer Prize–winning critic Margo Jefferson and writer Lyle Rexer.
Click Black Dolls: Unique African American Dolls, 1850–1930 From the Collection of Deborah Neff to place this book in your Amazon shopping cart.