Dolls in Our Family

When I was in Michigan for my father’s funeral and to spend time with my mother, I organized the family photo albums and loose photos so that Mom could find her way in the basement. I took a couple albums home with me to digitize for her.

The first one I worked on is an album that my mother put together when she was 10 years old, so the photos are all from the 1940s.

I love to see that the kids had dolls. In this one, my aunt is holding her two Christmas dolls. This would be about 1946 or 47.

Here my mother and her siblings are with a couple of cousins. My mom is the tallest girl because she was the oldest of all the cousins. I don’t think my uncle is holding a doll. What IS that he’s got? A bow?

I love that crocheted shade pull you can see hanging in the window. Just another little touch that was part of my young life and slowly disappeared over the years.

Given a little time, I can probably figure out what dolls most of these are. Surprisingly, none of them look like Shirley Temple dolls–and those would have been very popular.

In this last photo (actually there are a few more, but the dolls and stuffed animals aren’t as visible), my aunt (age 6) is sitting with Pat (age 7), one of their cousins. Pat is the larger girl. Pat has a very important surgery coming up next month. If you are a praying sort, please put her on your prayer list.

Notice the wagon handle off to the side, showing they are sitting in a little red wagon. And the leather sandals and saddles shoes with the stretched out saggy socks. Sometimes I think there was more in common between my childhood and my mother’s than between mine and my kids’!

I’m not sure if all the girl cousins loved dolls, but the ones in these pictures seem to have enjoyed them.

Do you have any old photos of family members with dolls? Over on Pinterest I have a board of photos (particularly vintage and antique) of children with dolls.

I don’t intend to natter on about dolls all the time, but on Thursday I think I will share with you a doll story you might find interesting. Actually it’s about The Doll Empress. You thought The Doll Lady overdid the dolls in her house? Hah, she is nothing compared with The Doll Empress.






Filed under #writerlife, Dolls, History, Inspiration, Memoir, Photographs, Vintage American culture, Writing

55 responses to “Dolls in Our Family

  1. The shoes caught my attention right away. I had shoes (and socks) like both of them.

  2. Absolutely gorgeous. You have me thinking now!

    • Do you have any of these old pix of family members with dolls?

      • Thing is there are thousands of photos going back 3 generations and it seems to be dogs that dominate as companions and a teddy bear here and there. I remember the dolls of my childhood. Still have them and my mother’s teddy bear.

  3. Now I see what an early imprimateur dolls were for you, Luanne. This collection is lovely. I will see if I have any photos of my sis and our nhood friends with our dolls.

  4. How nice of you to digitalize the photos for your mother. I have so many photos I should do that for, but there’s just never enough time. I keep saying, “One day…”

    I don’t recall any pics of me holding a doll. I suppose there are somewhere. πŸ™‚

    • The only way I can do this is to do a page of photos a day. 3-5 pix–scan, crop, and file. I try to scan into .tif and then use zamzar to change to jpg so that I have a long term quality pic and then one I can use to send people, etc.
      Once you start going through the photos you will be surprised what you find in there!!

  5. I love all of these photos, Luanne. I especially like the one with all of your mother’s siblings.
    Thankfully, my father was on the ball and scanned all of our family photos onto DVDs.
    I’ll certainly say a prayer for Pam.

    • Jill, thank you so much. It’s Pat. I found out from a caption my mother wrote that she used to be known as Patsy when she was really little. I had no idea! That was so great that your dad scanned all the photos! It is such a huge job!!!

  6. I love these Luanne. I don’t have any old family photos with dolls. I do have lots of photos of my own girls with dolls and even more with their favorite stuffed animals (that they both still have).
    I thought of you yesterday. My husband was doing the crossword puzzle–not sure if it was the NY Times or not, but there was a clue for the Twilight Zone episode with the scary doll! πŸ™‚

  7. A really satisfying exercise Luanne. As you would expect, I found the pictures and how they prompt the memory fascinating

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Derrick! Old photos are such a treasure for triggering the memories and the sensory memories, as well. You and I are lucky to have the ones we have!

  8. I don’t remember any old photos with dolls. I will have to look. Cute post! Love the pictures.

    • Oh, too bad, Mary Ann, but you might be surprised if you look. I found some photos today that astonished me. Photos I didn’t realize the family owned. I’m so glad you enjoyed these!

  9. Love those old photos. They tell such stories!

  10. These images are so beautiful. I don’t have any images of kids with dolls, even back as far as my grandfathers photos. Shame they look so interesting Luanne.

    • Kath, that really is a shame. I love looking at the antique and vintage pix on Pinterest of the kids and their dolls. I think I need to open it up though and start to include more pix from the 80s to the present. Then it will be easier to see changes and trends in both the dolls and the ways of holding the dolls, etc.

      • Great idea, my daughter never really liked dolls she preferred to hug real live pets lol.

        • Of course, your daughter would prefer hugging live pets! Me too! This comment made me realize something. I never was really into dolls for the hugging, but for the imagination. I liked the miniatureness, the pretty clothes and accessories, and especially making houses and towns and peopling them with dolls.

  11. I have a picture of me in my pj’s proudly holding one of those Chrissie dolls from the 70’s –the kind you pulled the hair out of the top of her head to make long hair or turned a knob to make it short again.

    • Haha, I remember those hair growing dolls! I imagine it’s a really cute pic. What makes kids so proud of their dolls anyway?

  12. I love old photos. I don’t have many from my childhood or earlier, and definitely none with dolls. There may be cats, though πŸ˜‰ You are inspiring me to digitize my photos. I have two small photo albums from when I visited my not-yet husband in Ecuador when he was in the Peace Corps. I guess I need to get to work πŸ™‚

    • Yes, definitely start digitizing. Go slow, but steady. Marie, those must be amazing pictures!
      On my family history blog quite a while ago I posted several photos of my family’s pets: great-great grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. It was just cool seeing the thread of dogs and cats going through the photos I was looking at. At one time I had even toyed with the idea of putting the photos together in a frame–all the dogs.

  13. Your pictures bring back memories. I was ten years old in 1947. I remember the crocheted shade pulls and had a little red wagon – a Radio Flyer. I had a bride doll who was a regular doll with reddish blond hair and blue eyes that blinked. My mother sewed her a satin wedding dress and made a veil. She had a lovely trousseau as well. I don’t think she had a name except for Bride Doll.

    • Yes, these photos are your decade! Your doll sounds beautiful. And so special to have the bridal outfit made by your mother. Did she make the whole trousseau or did it come with the doll? She must have looked like a teen or young lady rather than a child or baby if she wore a wedding dress!

      • My mother made all the clothes. She was a young lady doll, though nothing like Barbie. She even had a bouquet with mini artificial orange blossoms. and satin streamers that my mother made. In my picture album there is a picture of me at age four holding “Doll Sally” who is a fairly large toddler age doll. My sister’s name was Sally. In many of the pictures of me up to the age of six I am holding a doll. There is even a stuffed puppy who I named Henry for my neighbor’s dog. Thanks for calling up these memories. <3

        • Oh, I love that your memory is working overtime on these fun times! Your mother really went all out. She must have been a talented dressmaker to do all that work for your doll!

  14. You know, I really don’t think I do have any pictures of relatives with dolls. It’s interesting to me you’ve found so many! Maybe I just never noticed them before.

    • I was struck by the number of doll photos in that album. After all, there aren’t all that many pix in there. She also has the neighbor’s house for some strange reason and photos of their family vacations. But I guess dolls were a big part of her childhood, and I am guessing that my aunt, the youngest one in the pix, was particularly a doll lover and a puppy lover. Now you will look at your old photos with fresh eyes and notice a doll, I’ll bet.

  15. Those are great pix, Luanne. The little girls are all so adorable, as are their dolls. It was fun to see the children dressed for winter and spring. As for pix with dolls—> I think the closest I have is Jenny with a stuffed doll/animal.

    • I think the kids are adorable, too. And they look so happy with the dolls. Too bad we can’t see Don’s face with what looks like a bow. You don’t have any of yourself or your sis or your mother with a doll? And you with all those Ginnies!!! (as in Ginny dolls, but I think plural must be Ginnies?) I’d love to see you with your array of dolls behind you. I’m glad you have Jenny with a type of doll!

  16. I like the way your mother’s family look like Nordic residents. Your mother’s brother has like a darker look. If he were in my dad’s family they may say he looked like a “blacK Irish laddie.” Yes! That must be an almost adult-sized bow! I think the baby doll looks cute in littlest one’s arms. Funny, with a widow’s peak hair style. Luanne. I am one who writes up a prayer list and my friend. Patrice, who spends half year in Mississippi other half in Charlevoix, MI will add a Pat to her list, too. Thanks for the memories. My kids have a lititle bit of “hippie” in them but I wore shoes with stretched out socks and pinafore like my mom Mom (and the girls in your family may have worn. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • Hah, that is cute. Well, these are Dutch kids. They tend to the blonde as children and then brown hair as adults, although a few stay blondish. And a few have that dark hair like my uncle (still blue eyes though).
      by hippie do you mean they went barefoot? ripped jeans? And that you were more traditional like these kids? My mom did have a lot of pinafores that my grandmother made her. Also, the girls OFTEN wore their hair in braids pinned on top of their heads. 90% or more of the photos show that hairstyle for the girls past age 8. I wore my hair 1/2 up and 1/2 down so much of the time. Thank you so much for adding Pat to your list–and your friend doing it also! xo

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