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Nebraska State Historical Society

The Doll Show
Nebraska State Historical Society

 Nebraska Children and Their Dolls, 1850-1949

Traditionally, children have used their dolls as playmates, pretend babies, and as a means to explore their own world. They have endowed dolls with personalities; they have named them, loved them, nursed them, disciplined them and, upon occasion, buried them. The world of dolls is the world of children. For collectors and historians, these dolls are a window on that world.

Daguerrertype, unidentified
children and their toys, ca. 1860.

The Reverend Thomas Aikens family, Custer County, Nebraska, 1888. Photograph by Solomon D. Butcher.


Sarah Ladd, later Mrs. Thomas C. Woods, at home with her dolls, 1645 G Street, Lincoln, Nebraska, ca. 1899.


Margaret May McCoy, later Mrs. Willis Dean of Saunders County, Nebraska, recalled the dolls she and her sisters received for Christmas, 1871:

They were about eight inches long, with china heads,hands and feet that were soon broken, but we kept them long enough to name them. Ida named hers Shiney-winey, Harriet named hers Inn-a-tiny, and I named mine Lin-na-doodle. We played with them until their heads, hands, and feet were all gone, and then until the bodies had been left out in the rain and become, all soaked. They were stuffed with sawdust, so that a soaking would make the muslin covering burst


Virtual Exhibits

Doll Show


Dolls #1

Dolls #2

Dolls #3

Dolls #4

Dolls #5

Dolls #6

Dolls #7

Dolls #8

Dolls #9

Dolls #10

Dolls #11



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Last updated 26 May 2005

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