Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day

So in Style Grace and Darren celebrate each other and wish you a Happy Valentine's Day, too.


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Saralee's Sibling

17-inch stuffed-vinyl doll by Ideal presumed to be Saralee's older sibling

After several years' search for a sibling of Ideal Saralee, at least one of them, I am blessed to now own one.  After discovering the existence of Saralee Negro Doll in Myla Perkins' book, Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide 1820-1991 (1993), a two-year search for Saralee commenced.   My Saralee, seen here, arrived in the late 1990s.

In Judith Izen's Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls (volumes 1 and 2; 1994 and 1998), the author included illustrations of head sculpts of other dolls that were supposed to be part of Saralee's doll family.  Izen's book indicates that these dolls were never made.  It was later brought to my attention by Gerald Corbin, the owner of an all-vinyl 1950s doll by Ideal, that Saralee's brother was made.  Corbin's doll is shown here and is featured in my second book, Black Dolls a Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion (2008).   From this information, I knew at least one Saralee sibling had been created, a brother, or an all-vinyl doll dressed by the owner as a boy.

Other collectors are known to own dolls referred to as Saralee's brother; however, their dolls are not all vinyl.  Like Saralee, their dolls have a cloth body and bent baby legs.  Their dolls' head sculpts are clearly different than Saralee's as illustrated in this comparison headshot photo shared by Black Legacy Images of Saralee and a doll identified as her brother.

After seeing baby siblings, I knew at least two versions of Saralee's siblings existed, presumably both boys.

This is one of my doll's first photos upon arrival taken before she was sanitized.

My doll was offered on eBay as "Saralee."  When I viewed the auction and saw pictures of the doll's stuffed-vinyl body and examined the photos of the doll's facial features, which are broader than Saralee's, I knew it was a sibling.  I also knew it was not Saralee because Saralee has a cloth body. Dressed as a girl, I wondered if she was a brother like Gerald Corbin's doll or perhaps actually released as a girl.  Corbin described his doll as measuring "approximately 14 inches."  My doll has a very similar face as his doll and an all-vinyl body but she stands 17 inches tall.  It is possible that Corbin's indication of "approximately 14 inches" is off and that his doll and mine are the same doll.  It is also possible that my doll is a big sister (or big brother).

Because the doll arrived dressed as a girl, I have not changed her gender.  I did, however, have to work with her before I could incorporate her into the doll population.  The doll was quite dirty with a thick musty, mildewy odor.

In preparation for cleaning the body, I removed the dress and the hand-sewn panties which had yellowed with age and were very dirty.

A note was made of the head and back marks which are,
(on the neck, and)
(on the upper back)
The head marks are identical to the head marks of the doll identified as Saralee's baby brother.  I do not know the markings of the 14-inch boy owned by Corbin.

Cleaning and Airing Out

I removed and hand-washed her dress and underwear.  Both items were laid flat to air dry.

Baking soda wash

Initially, I used liquid soap to wash the doll's entire body (without immersing it in water).  That did not remove the stench.  I created a paste using baking soda and water and applied this all over the doll.  This was left on for 24 hours before rinsing off.

Close-up of baking soda wash

After the baking soda was washed off, Saralee's sibling was laid supine near an open window.

Since fresh air and sunlight work well together to remove odors, instead of taking the doll outside, I opened a window and placed her on a sunlit windowsill for a few hours after washing off the baking soda.

I decided she needed direct sunlight and more fresh air exposure.  So I tied a piece of string around the doll's neck, fastened the end of the string to a wire clothes hanger, and hung the doll outside for a week to 10 days, bringing her in each evening.  (A quicker fix to remove the smell completely would have been to remove her head and the original stuffing and restuff her.  I might still do this.)

With the smell finally faded enough that I can only sense a hint of it if I hold the doll close to my nose, I redressed her in her clean undies and dress as illustrated next.

Her undies are still yellow, but they are clean.  It could also be that the fabric was originally yellow.
As illustrated in the full-length photos in this post, the doll arrived with bare feet.  I found a pair of burgundy Mary-Jane-style shoes that fit her chubby feet, but she needed socks.

A white knit headband was used to make Saralee's sister a pair of socks.

I used my headband-sock-making method to make a pair of socks for this girl.  See "headband socks" link under Related References.

Wearing her clean dress and undies, new socks and shoes, here she poses all cleaned up.

Saralee's Sister (Kaavia) and Saralee

Saralee's sister posed for a couple of final photos with the original Saralee Negro Doll by Ideal, who was once thought to be the only Saralee doll produced by Ideal.

Their subtle facial differences and their different complexions are noticeable in this close-up.  Both have brown sleep eyes and upper eyelashes.  Their noses are shaped similarly.  Both have open/closed mouths with molded tongues.  The original doll's bottom lip is wider.  Their eyebrows and hairlines are shaped differently.
The original Saralee is marked on the head only:


Related Links
Ideal's Saralee Negro Doll
Headband Socks


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

Thank you for following, commenting, and sharing using the share button below.

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Check out my eBay listings here.
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Monday, February 10, 2020

Last Known Dolls Test Dolls

Black and White versions of Effanbee's 1968 Twinkie are on display at the National Museum of  African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

My quest to find dolls like the last known dolls used in Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark's Dolls Test began in late 2018.  It was around that time that I first saw the above online images of the dolls, which are now on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  The site only identifies them as being made by Effanbee in 1968.  Because I knew the Clarks began conducting their Dolls Test during the late 1940s to study the psychological effects of segregation on African American children, I surmised that these were one of the last pair of dolls used in the test and in their psychology practice at the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem New York.

According to Dr. Kenneth Clark's eulogy, the first dolls used in the Dolls Test were purchased from Woolworth's on 125th Street in Harlem for 50 cents.  They were probably made of composition.  The last known dolls the doctors used, made by Effanbee, are made of vinyl.

Snowball (a.k.a.) Black Grumpy by Effanbee 1913
The Effanbee doll company began making dolls during the early 1900s and was always an inclusive doll line.  Their Black dolls date back to their inception in 1912 with Snowball (also known as Black Grumpy) being offered in 1913.  Snowball is a 12-inch composition doll that has a cloth body, upper arms, and legs.

Because Effanbee has made a variety of dolls throughout the years, with many having similar facial features and/or using the same head sculpts, some offered optionally as White or Black, and some issued only in White versions, I had to first determine which 1968 Effanbee doll made in both Black and White versions was the last doll used by the  Clarks in their doll study.  The doll was eventually identified as Twinkie as noted in the first image of this post.  The details of my research are included in my blog post, Twinkie or My Fair Baby?  A link to the post is included under the Related Links section of this post.

With the actual doll and the 16-inch size identified, I searched for and saved several different search combinations on eBay.  Doing this would prompt eBay to notify me when there were new listings that contained keywords from my saved searches.  Some of the saved searches included "black doll Effanbee"; "1968 doll Effanbee"; "1968 black doll"; and "Effanbee Twinkie" to name a few.

16-inch Twinkie from 1968 by Effanbee

I knew it would be easier to find the White version first and that is what happened.  In April 2019, this 16-inch all-vinyl doll arrived wearing a hand-knit dress, bonnet, diaper, and booties as illustrated above.  The doll's head marks are as shown below:


Her back is marked:

The search continued for her counterpart.

At 15-inches tall, this Twinkie is an inch shorter than the 1968 version and the head sculpt is slightly different.  The nape of her neck is marked:  EFFANBEE ©1959.  Her back is marked EFFANBEE 19©64, which means she was released by the company in 1964 but uses the 1959 Twinkie head mold.  She arrived (with the doll shown next) wearing an untagged red flannel romper.  

An 11-inch version of Vogue's Baby Dear was offered with 1964 Twinkie.

Black Twinkie from 1964 arrived in August 2019.  Even though this version was not made in the same year and is not the same height as the 1968 Dolls Test dolls, I purchased 1964 Twinkie because of the very low beginning bid.  Because I was still playing with dolls in 1964, this version of Twinkie and the doll that traveled with her (Vogue's Baby Dear) are dolls I could have owned as a child had they been available for my mother to purchase.  For nostalgic reasons, I bid and won the auction as the only bidder.  The search for the 1968 Black version continued.

1968 Black Twinkie was finally found wearing a brown floral-print dress with matching bonnet.  Her head and back markings are identical to the White doll's marks.

In October of 2019, the long-sought-after 16-inch Black version of Effanbee's Twinkie from 1968 was offered in an auction at an incredibly low price.  I had a bidding competitor or two who also wanted the doll, but I was the determined high bidder winning the auction at still a very low price.  That win, of course, was followed by a long sigh of relief.

The 1968 Twinkie dolls wear their arrival clothing.

With both dolls having been found, the next step was to remove and store their clothing and dress them in white diapers as the Clarks had done with their dolls.  An unused pre-folded cloth diaper was used to make two doll-size diapers.

I used the White doll's knit diaper as a pattern to cut out two diapers that would fit the dolls.   The cut edges were stitched to prevent fraying.  I also used clear nail polish on the cut edges for reinforcement.  The diapers are pinned on with medium-size safety pins as shown next.

16-inch all-vinyl Black and White versions of Effanbee's 1968 Twinkie
With this mission accomplished, I am now the proud owner of dolls like the last ones Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark used in their Racial Identification and Preference in Negro Children study which commenced during the late 1940s. This study used dolls that were identical except for gender and race to prove that racial segregation caused Black children to feel inferior to White children.

One of the Clarks' first experiments using dolls involved 253 African American boys and girls ages three to seven, who resided in northern and southern regions of the United States.  The children had brown complexions that varied from light, medium, to dark.  They were instructed by the experimenter to do as shown in the image below.

Results showed the majority of children chose the White doll when performing requests 1, 2, and 4.  The majority chose the Black doll for request 3 (give me the doll that looks bad).   Test results proved that African American children felt racially inferior to White children.

The Clarks went on to become expert witnesses in several school desegregation cases where their Dolls Test, as it was later dubbed, was used in the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas to prove racial segregation resulted in inferiority complexes in Black children.  That case ended in the landmark decision in 1954 that racially segregated public schools were unconstitutional.   Formerly segregated public schools throughout the U. S. were required to desegregate and were given 20 years to do so.  Some states, Texas being one, did not complete the desegregation process until the deadline year approached.  I am a product of that school desegregation mandate, spending my junior and senior years of high school being bussed to and from a predominantly White school located outside my immediate neighborhood.

The Clarks continued their studies on racial bias at their Harlem center through the 1970s by which time all U. S. public schools had been desegregated.   Of note, Dr. Kenneth and Mamie Clark became the first and second African Americans to graduate with a Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia University.  Dr. Kenneth Clark graduated first.  Also of note, in 1966, Dr. Kenneth Clark became the first African American president of the American Psychology Association.

In this last photo, Effanbee's 15-inch Twinkie from 1964 poses with the 16-inch versions from 1968.

Related Links
Dr. Kenneth Clark's Eulogy
Twinkie or My Fair Baby
Doll Study 1947 Racial Identification and Preference
Video: Brown v. Board of Education Doll Test
Video: Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark


There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.

Thank you for following, commenting, and sharing using the share button below.

Check out what I am selling here
Check out my eBay listings here.
Please follow my sister blog Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.
Donate here to support this blog. Thank you!