In the past, cooking, cleaning, and sewing toys taught little girls important skills in preparation for adulthood. Toy versions of mother's household appliances allowed girls to play at being grown-up, while dolls encouraged maternal feelings.
From left, Lakota beaded doll cradle collected at the Red Cloud Agency, 1873-75; 1900 wooden doll dresser; doll cradle made from a real cradle used by noted Nebraska politician William Jennings Bryan, who was born in 1860; china tea set from 1880; two hand-cranked toy sewing machines; and nickel-plated toy stove purchased by mail order around 1918.
Left to right, beaded Lakota doll, early 1880s china-head doll, Omaha beaded wool doll dress, all-bisque Bye-Lo Baby, Armand Marseille My Dream Baby, Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls from the 1920s.
This My Dream Baby doll has a bisque head by German manufacturer Armand Marseille and a cloth body, about 1925.
From left, 1915 jointed composition doll with wardrobe, 1930s Cuddle Kewpie designed by one-time Nebraska resident Rose O'Neill, and 1950 Terri Lee doll with pedal pusher and Brownie outfits. Violet Gradwohl of Lincoln, Nebraska, introduced the Terri Lee doll in 1946 as a more realistic alternative to the dolls then available. Named for her daughter, Terri Lee was produced in Lincoln until a 1951 fire destroyed the factory. The company later resumed production in California and manufactured dolls until about 1962.
Marea Williams is ready to take two of her favorite dolls for a stroll, 1880s.
These two young girls invited their favorite dolls for a tea party, 1890s.
Esther Hartman played with this homemade child-sized kitchen cabinet during the 1920s in Lincoln. The 1930s rolling pin, cookie sheet, and toy canned food belonged to Carol Gillett, Lincoln.
Ready for a snowball fight, about 1910. Photographer John Nelson of Erickson, Nebraska, took this shot.
Doll buggy that belonged to Mrs. Albert Wiedenhammer as a child during the 1870s
Nebraska History Museum