World War II brought devastation to France. In 1947 Washington, D.C., columnist Drew Pearson initiated a friendship train, funded entirely through personal donations, which provided $40 million worth of supplies to help France recover. To show their appreciation French citizens gathered forty-nine boxcars, decorated with plaques representing the forty provinces of France, and filled them with gifts for Americans. This "Gratitude Train" or "Merci Train" arrived in New York City in February 1949, with a boxcar designated for each state (the District of Columbia and the territory of Hawaii shared a boxcar).
Nebraska's boxcar arrived on February 13, 1949. The Nebraska State Historical Society distributed the gifts it contained to public and private organizations throughout the state. Gifts designated for Nebraska's Catholic communities were divided among St. Mary's Cathedral High School in Lincoln, St. Cecilia's Cathedral High School in Omaha, and St. Mary's Cathedral High School in Grand Island. The Nebraska State Historical Society retained some 250 items, many of which are included in this exhibit.
Thirty-nine of the forty-nine Merci Train boxcars were placed in public locations and survive today. Nebraska's boxcar was turned over to the 40 et 8, an organization founded by American veterans of World War I. Unfortunately the boxcar fell into disrepair, was moved to the state fairgrounds, and eventually sold for scrap.
Dolls & Doll Accessories
Doll Bed 7144-25
Doll bed with a sateen coverlet with lace border. There is a small pillow under the cover. Attached to the coverlet is a card that says:
"Madeoiselle M.Lamy, Directrice de l'Écôle Sainte-Marie,
And her pupils, with their kindest thanks."
22, Rue Masson
Les Mureaux (S.-&-O.)"
Doll with arms and legs that are one piece and held on to the body with a string running through the openings. On the back of the neck MOD5DEP appears in raised letters.
A card accompanies the doll and the front says:
"Orphelinat de la Préservation, 80, rue du Géneral Bual, Nantes (Loire Inférieure)"
[Orphanage of the Preservation]
The back of the card says:
"Je m'appelle Marie France, et viens au nom des Petites Bleuettes de Nantes vous exprimer toute leur reconnaissance."
[My name is Marie France and I come in the name of the Little Blue Children of Nantes to express all of their thanks.]
Doll wearing a regional costume with wooden peasant shoes.
Doll wearing a regional costume with brown leather shoes, a heart-shaped white mother-of-pearl locket and white earrings. There is a note that says: "From people of Boulogne."
Doll with movable eyes wearing a regional costume.
Doll purse 7144-32 [dup 3]
Crocheted doll purse with a tag that has the letter "G" on it.
Doll cape 7144-193-(1)
Brown doll cape of impermeable oilskin.
Doll dress 7144-193-(2)
Cotton doll dress.
Doll dress 7144-193-(3)
Taffeta doll dress.
Doll jumper 7144-193-(4)
Doll beret 7144-193-(5)
Crocheted doll beret.
Doll clothes 7144-194
Hand-knit doll clothes tied together. In the set is a dark blue hat, a pair of red booties, dark blue pants, and a red sweater with dark blue mittens that are detachable on each arm.
Sleepy-eye doll with a china head and wood body.
Doll bootie 7144-32 [dup1]
Doll bootie with cardboard sole.
Composition baby doll in a sleeper with a red painted belt, cream top, and light blue bib. Arms are movable and held to the trunk with a string. Inscriptions: Letters "NIL" cast in raised letters on back of neck. Doll is 3.25" (8.2 cm) long.
Sleepy eye doll with composition body and bisque head.