Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Piecing Together a Doll-Filled Past

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Piecing Together a Doll-Filled Past

Article excerpt

She's a doll detective. Miriam Formanek-Brunell studies dolls and bits of information about dolls to learn how children played with them years ago.

"The written record is kind of meager," says Ms. Formanek- Brunell, an American history professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Since children are too busy playing with toys to write about the experience, researchers must rely on what historians call "material culture."

"I looked at thousands of dolls and analyzed them," Formanek- Brunell says. Some were in museum or personal collections. Others were pictured in books and magazines, or advertised in old catalogs. "I began to see trends," she says. Many American families could not afford to give their daughters more than one fancy doll, which was usually imported from Europe and made of bisque (unglazed porcelain). They were fragile and expensive. American manufacturers made dolls of wood or metal, then gave them imported china heads and limbs. …

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