Tuesday, January 8, 2008

First Lady Doll Collection

by Deb Baker
Say hello to Martha Washington and Helen Taft. If you have the opportunity to travel to the Smithsonian, don’t miss the First Lady doll collection. The project began in 1975 when a small group got together and decided to commission Phyllis Park, a doll sculptor, to create first lady heads to look like their portraits. By the time the project was ready for exhibit, 200 volunteers had worked on the display. Each sawdust-filled cloth body took 15 hours to assemble. Costumes are replicas of actual dresses worn by the first ladies. Freda Davis spent 105 hours sewing beads on Mrs. Taft’s costume.

Our first ladies have been remarkable women, strong in their own rights. We’ve shared their successes, failures, sorrows, and joys. We’ve seen them make history. Some have shaped our national character in unbelievable ways. All are remembered in this fascinating display.


Anonymous said...

That sounds wonderful, and I wish I could spend more time in Washington.

Did you ever see a Flora McFlimsey doll? These were produced in the later 19th century, I think, and came equipped with a full wardrobe, down to gloves, socks, combs, etc. (complete with her own trunk), all completely functional. I was lucky enough to work at a historical institution that had one.

Camille Minichino said...

Oh, I love these!

I've been reading a lot about Mary Todd Lincoln since my new series is set in fictional Lincoln Point, CA ... I'd love to see her doll.

Did you find these images on line?

Deb Baker said...

I went online and checked out Madame Alexander's Flora McFlimsey. She's lovely!
You can view the collection at