Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Motor City Doll Club: History and Current Membership Drive

Opera Diva Cisette, souvenir doll

Motor City Doll Club of Detroit Michigan's most recent social event was a doll luncheon entitled “Motor City Opera Diva.” The world renowned Madame Alexander Doll Company designed two customized African American dolls for the event, a 10-inch (25.4cm) souvenir Opera Diva Cissette in a limited edition of 100 and a 21-inch (53.34cm) Motor City Diva Cissy in an edition of only 10 centerpiece dolls.

After learning about the event and the event dolls, I contacted Motor City Doll Club (MCDC) President, Terry Crawford.  I wanted to know the club's history, if associate memberships are available, and if quantities of either event doll remained.  Crawford shared the rich history of the club, confirmed that the club does offer associate memberships, and while Motor City Diva Cissy is no longer available, limited quantities remain of Opera Diva Cissette.* 

Club History
Founded by Myla Perkins and Beverly Dooms, Motor City Doll Club was established in 1994 under the name The Michigan Metro Society.  There were 18 original members. In 1995 the club became affiliated with the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC) under its current name, Motor City Doll Club.

The original purpose of the organization was to provide an avenue for sharing information on the history of dolls, to increase awareness of the importance of black dolls for black children and to promote the hobby of doll collecting.

Each meeting includes a discussion and display of the dolls that are the subject of the meeting. Some of the highlighted presentations have been mini-workshops in doll quilts, travel trunks, and doll pins. Seminars have included cataloging dolls, basic doll care, and doll insurance.

In 2000, members presented “A Century of Dolls” where each monthly meeting focused on the history of dolls for each decade from 1900-2000. Each member researched the most popular dolls of the era, and the most popular manufacturers and events of the decade. MCDC has hosted “ tea parties” and “dress-up parties” where members dressed-up as one of their favorite dolls.

In 2000, MCDC contracted with Madame Alexander to produce a customized African-American version of 1998 Wendy’s Special CheerThe limited edition doll was received in 2001.

MCDC has taken several doll adventure trips. In 1998 th club traveled to the Strong Museum in Rochester, NY with a side trip to the Victorian Doll Museum and Chili Doll Hospital. In 1999, the Ann Arbor Doll Club traveled with MCDC to the St. Charles, Illinois Toy Fair. This trip included stops at Gigi’s Doll Store and Shirley’s Dollhouse.

Over the years, the club has had special guest presenters such as; Uta Bauser, designer of The Street Kids; Helena Hamilton, designer of Candi Couture dolls; Joe Golembrieski, paper doll collector; Michele Sapp, designer of soft sculpture dolls. Nancy Goldstein, author of Jackie Ormes: The First African- American Woman Cartoonist was the guest speaker in March 2008.

Doll-Themed Luncheons and Events
MCDC has hosted several doll-themed luncheons.  Marcella Welch designed and sculpted the club's first luncheon doll in 2003. In 2004 Robert Raikes designed and sculpted a wooden souvenir doll for their luncheon.

In July 2007, the UFDC Convention was held in Detroit, Michigan.  MCDC and Royal Oak Doll Club hosted a themed luncheon entitled “Up On The Roof.” The luncheon souvenir doll was Jimi, an African American boy doll designed by Helen Kish. Sue Sizemore designed a soft sculpture doll for the club's luncheon in 2009.

In 2010, the luncheon doll, Opera Diva Cissette was designed by Madame Alexander.

At the 2010 UFDC Convention held in Chicago, IL, Motor City Doll Club, along with Royal Oak Dolls and Friends sponsored a Madame Alexander Doll event.

Work in the Community
Over the years, MCDC has been involved in various outreach programs. In 2008 the club conducted a seminar to increase awareness of doll collecting to the Roosevelt Middle School in Detroit.

Motor City Doll Club has an annual Charitable Giving Program during the Christmas season, which provides food, clothing, dolls, other toys, books, and/or cash to needy families. The program has assisted a facility for abused women, families in need of financial and material aid, and a homeless shelter.

Meetings and Membership Information
Everyone is welcome to the meetings, which are held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. the third Sunday of each month, September-June, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

MCDC is expanding their membership nationwide.  Membership to the most dynamic club dedicated to the promotion and appreciation of black dolls is $49 annually and includes membership in United Federation of Doll Clubs.  Associate memberships for those persons who live too far away to attend regular meetings are now available for $24 annually.

MCDC's current membership drive will culminate with a membership tea at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in September.

Persons interested in visiting and/or joining MCDC may contact Membership Chair, Pat Felder (

*Limited quantities of Opera Diva Cissette are available for $120.00, which includes shipping.  Contact Pat Felder at the above email address if interested in purchasing this lovely souvenir doll.



  1. The Motor City Doll Club has an admirable record of activities in the community. Thanks for sharing the history of this organization.

  2. This club's community work and effort to promote the significance of black dolls and their history is very admirable. One of the founders (Myla Perkins) has done extensive work and research on black dolls, which culminated in two books: Black Dolls: An Identification and Value Guide 1890 to 1990 and Black Dolls: An Identification and Value Guide Book II. Everyone who has even an inkling of an interest in black dolls should own Myla's books. Her work inspired me to write my first book.


  3. Great information. It's nice to hear about all of the work they are doing. I love that doll, too. I was waiting to see if you ordered one, but I guess you didn't.

  4. Hi Vanessa,

    No, I didn't order Opera Cissette. I like Cissettes and Cissy dolls, but I have learned I can't have them all and that it is okay to admire dolls from afar.

    My intention with this blog and others like it is to support collectors, artists, and organizations that promote the importance of black dolls and their historical significance.

    I applaud MCDC's work in the community and am impressed by the incredibly talented artists and manufacturers they have commissioned to create their limited edition club dolls.


  5. Thank you for this Blog it's share some of Detroit Rich Doll Her-Story!

    We are so happy to announce that Myla Perkins will be receiving the Doll Legacy Award at Sandy's Land 6th Annual Detroit Doll Show on Friday, November 10, 2017, Masquerade Party Kick Off for the Doll Show. The event will take from 6:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree By Hilton, 5801 Southfield FWY., Detroit MI 48228. To find out more visit

    Thank you!

    1. I am delighted to hear Myla Perkins will be honored at this year's Detroit Doll Show. She is a trailblazer in the black-doll collecting community and deserves accolades for her work in preserving and sharing black-doll history! Had it not been for her first and later her second book (but more so the first), many collectors, including me, would have limited knowledge about black dolls made during the period her books cover: 1820 through 1995. Are there other doll books? Yes, there are, but those that do not focus on the identification and value of black dolls are not very helpful to those whose interest lies solely in black dolls. In other doll reference books, there may be a tenth of one percent of black dolls (if any at all) compared to the other dolls those books cover. So kudos to Ms. Perkins and to Sandy's Land for honoring such a remarkable woman. She is the reason I have done what I do regarding preservation of black doll history.

      Thank you, Sandy!



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