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Scholars Day: April 11, 2012

Black Dolls and American Children: Learning What Dark Skin Meant in Antebellum America

This paper explores the implications of black dolls in Antebellum America among the middle class by a close examination of a sample of black dolls, housed in the Strong National Museum of Play and the Philadelphia Doll Museum. Two distinct types of black dolls indicate two opposing purposes, and two distinct groups to which the dolls were marketed. Black dolls marketed to white middle class children served to instruct these children in the racial stereotypes of the day, and to inform these children that African Americans existed to fill roles of servitude. Inversely, black dolls marketed to African American middle class children served to break these racial stereotypes, instructing these children that African Americans did not have to take the role of a servant or slave, but could in fact have a place in society equal to the white members of American Society.

Please note that presentation times are approximate. If you are interested in attending sessions with multiple presentations, please be in the room at the start of the session.
Presenter: Ann Stachowski (Graduate Student)
Topic: History
Location: 102 Edwards
Time: 2:45 pm Session IV