• The Reclusive, Doll-Collecting Copper Queen of Fifth Avenue Huguette Clark, the youngest daughter of copper mogul and Montana Senator William Andrews Clark, lived her life in the headlines. Born in 1906 to the senator and Anna LaChapelle—Clark’s second wife, 39 years his junior—Huguette attracted media attention even as a toddler. She and her sister Andrée, four years older, appeared in the “New York Times” and the “Chicago Herald Tribune" disembarking ste…
  • Jem, the Truly Outrageous, Triple-Platinum '80s Rocker Who Nearly Took Down Barbie We got cable TV in the 1983, the same year I discovered what I called “rock” music, thanks to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Since the “Thriller” video gave me nightmares, I wasn’t supposed to watch MTV, the all music-video channel that launched in 1981, but I did. Pretty much every kid I knew had it on in the background all the time. Why would an 8-year-old girl play with “babyish” toys when this c…
  • Guys and Dolls: Veteran Toy Designer Wrestles With the Industry's Gender Divide The last time you spoke to a pregnant woman, how long did you wait to ask if she was having a boy or a girl? Thus begins the first of a million moments in which adults bombard those malleable little ones with preconceptions of gender, ranging from unconscious body language to outright sexism. Perhaps the most common ritual is surrounding babies with "gender-appropriate" objects: Specific styles an…
  • Black Is Beautiful: Why Black Dolls Matter As a little girl, Samantha Knowles didn’t stop to consider why most of her dolls—her American Girl dolls, her Cabbage Patch Kids, her Barbie dolls—were black like her. But black dolls were not common in her upstate New York hometown, whose population remains overwhelmingly white. So when Knowles was 8 years old, and one of her friends innocently asked “Why do you have black dolls?”, she didn’t kno…
  • Antique Dolls, from Wood and Wax to Kewpie We have a very small team here at the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, so we all have to do lots of different things. I don’t look after all the dolls, but I oversee the collections. I do the waxes and the woodens. I’ve got colleagues who are in charge of the cloth ones and the plastic ones and the porcelain ones and so on. I used to do all of it. When Caroline Goodfellow took early retire…
  • Dolls Are More Than Toys In a New England parlor of the 1890s a doll of the period was perched on top of a high book case, well out of the reach of grimy childish hands. From the top of its flaxen head to its neatly slippered feet it was a most lifelike representation in miniature of a young girl. The Parian ware head with delicately tinted face, slightly parted lips showing several perfectly shaped teeth, blue eye…
  • Random Thoughts on Dolls This is a most unorthodox treatise on dolls as we are neither collectors nor authorities on their histories, but for the past three years we have been literally up to our ears in dolls at Christmas time. It all started when we borrowed three old dolls and a little old broken down doll carriage from Miss Miller of the Museum of the City of New York for our Christmas window display. You can't…
  • Childhood In Early America With children of early America, deference to parents and other elders and unquestioning obedience to those in authority were of prime importance. George Washington's mother kept a bundle of peach branches in her pocket to be used as punishment for offences against her ironbound rules. Deportment was taught at school and at home and formality existed at all times. Courtesy was a duty and children w…