Saturday, April 4, 2020

Yara Shahidi Barbie

Yara Shahidi is seen in this side-by-side Internet-captured photo of herself and the Yara Shahidi OOAK Barbie.

The portrait doll of ABC's black-ish co-star and now-star of her own series on FreeForm, grown-ish, was introduced as a one-of-a-kind Barbie shero in March 2019.  Last week it was announced on Instagram by Papusile Mele that the doll will be mass-produced as part of Mattel's Barbie Inspiring Women series.  The release date remains unknown.


According to Shahidi in a Harper's Bazaar interview from March 2019, she chose the fashion the doll wears.  See the link to the article below.

Shahidi discusses the doll in this March 2019 Good Morning America video below:



As she states in the Harper's Bazaar interview, this is not the first time Yara has been connected with Barbie professionally.  As a much younger girl, she modeled with the So In Style dolls as illustrated on the back of So In Style Hair Stylin' Grace's box.

Young Yara Shahidi is seen on the back of So In Style Grace's box.

From Harper's Bazaar, Yara Shahidi on the Significance of Her Barbie

I look forward to the doll's release, which I hope will be later in the year as I have no plans to order or buy any dolls anytime in the near future as I continue to limit who and what enters my household.


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

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

No-sew Pleated Face mask


Prodigyrls Nicole aspires to become a doctor.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that is devastating the world, most people wear some form of face mask while out in public.  Initially, US officials informed us that face masks were not necessary.  However, if a disease is airborne and can enter your body through your eyes, nose, throat, and ears, in my opinion, wearing a face mask will reduce the risk of infection.  I have been wearing one since early March.  While wearing the mask and even when not wearing one at home, I continue to avoid touching my face.  While in public, I only touch things that I absolutely have to touch with gloved hands.  I practice not cross-contaminating things while wearing gloves, which are removed after I return to my car.  The gloves are properly removed and disposed of at home.

Due to a face mask shortage, several tutorials on how to make face masks have been posted online. I modified the instructions described and illustrated at the link below to create a no-sew face mask for a 17- to 18-inch doll using a 7 x 7-inch piece of cloth and clear rubber bands.  (The adult face mask tutorial uses an 18 x 18-inch scarf and ponytail holders.)

Prodigyrls Nicole (who aspires to be a doctor) was used as my model. Nicole's face mask was very easy to make as illustrated in the next photos.

A 7 x 7-inch square of cloth and two small rubber bands were used to make the mask.

The top half of the cloth was folded toward the center.

The bottom half of the cloth was folded to meet the top fold.

The cloth was turned over and the top and bottom halves of this side were folded toward the center.

The cloth was turned over once again and the rubber bands placed about an inch from the end on both sides.

Next, the two ends were folded in as illustrated here.

The mask was placed against Nicole's face so that it covers her nose and mouth and the rubber bands were stretched around her ears.

This photo illustrates the rubber band placement around Nicole's ears.

While this no-sew mask works well for a doll like Nicole, I am not sure it will fit snug enough against the human face to provide the necessary protection against potential virus droplets.  A pipe cleaner could be added underneath the top fold to make it adjustable for a snug fit.

__________

As you know, the coronavirus (COVID-19) is deadly, particularly in immune-compromised people, in the elderly, and those with preexisting conditions.  What makes it so deadly is that it takes a few days before a person even knows s/he has it and until they do know, they may have unknowingly infected others, who infect others, and so on and so on.  So, please be safe, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, don't touch your face with dirty hands or after you've touched something with your bare hands, and if you do not have to leave home, please follow the recommendations of healthcare officials and stay home.

The mayor of my city asked local residents "who are you protecting by staying at home?"  Some of their responses were:

"for my husband who has advanced Alzheimer's disease"

"for myself because I have underlying health issues"

"I stay inside to help my grandfather."

"for my patients, who are immunocompromised"

"for my 91 year old mother who is in assisted living"

"protecting a grandson...and my new great-granddaughter"

"For my father who will be 93 in April"



Staying home saves lives.

To all the essential employees in the world who cannot stay home, we love and appreciate you!

This too shall pass, soon I pray.

No-Sew Pleated Face Mask Instructions

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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
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Friday, March 27, 2020

Ella Fitzgerald - Barbie Signature Collection

Ella Fitzgerald by Mattel

Ella Fitzgerald is from the Inspiring Women Series of the Barbie Signature Collection by Mattel.  My doll arrived several weeks ago.  In light of the uncertainties of our ailing world, I have not been in the mood to write about her until now.


Details:
This lovely doll bears a close resemblance to the jazz legend who was Ella Fitzgerald.  She has black rooted hair worn in an upswept hairstyle with bangs.  Her eyes are painted brown.  She has slightly parted lips that are painted red.  

As Ms. Fitzgerald was a full-figured woman, the doll appropriately uses the Curvy Barbie articulated body.  


Her clothing ensemble includes a full-length purple gown that has silver shimmery accents on the fabric and purple tulle at the collar and sleeves.  A white broach accents the dress and matches the white stud earrings she wears.  As seen in this stock photo, her shoes are purple.  

Her accessories include a microphone with stand, a doll stand, and a certificate of authenticity.


The back of the box bears a headshot image of Ms. Fitzgerald who graced our earth from 1917-1996.



Back-of-the-box Description:

"Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do." –Ella Fitzgerald 

Barbie recognizes all female role models. The Inspiring Women Series pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before. 
A chance opportunity to perform at the famous Apollo Theater catapulted Ella Fitzgerald into stardom to become one of the most popular and beloved jazz singers in the world.  With vocalization and improvisation, Ella learned to use her voice as an instrument, and earned countless prestigious awards. Throughout her career, Ella lent her voice to people in need and her foundation, The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, provides aid to children and communities by fostering a love of music and reading.  With her incomparable voice and spirit of determination, Ella Fitzgerald earned the title "First Lady of Song" and the adoration of fans across generations.
Girls need more role models like Ella Fitzgerald because imagining they can be anything is just the beginning.  Actually seeing that they can makes all the difference.
Visit the Ella Fitzgerald website where additional stock photos of the Ella Fitzgerald doll have been added.  The website includes her complete biography.  Also at the website, you can listen to samples of some of Ms. Fitzgerald's popular songs and hear her angelic voice.

Other recent portrait dolls by Mattel that I own and have written about include:
Rosa Parks released 08/26/2019
Katherine Johnson released 05/2018
Ibtihaj Muhammad released 07/30/2018, seen here among non-portrait dolls
Gabby Douglas released 05/01/2017
Misty Copeland released 05/02/2016 (original review) and picture review
Ava Duvernay released 02/07/2015



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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
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Monday, March 16, 2020

My Twinn Beatriz Made Whole


This is a repoured, unpainted My Twinn Beatriz head in 05 complexion wearing an unglued wig.

For years I had wanted a My Twinn Beatriz doll.  I failed at winning one on eBay on several occasions.  Always getting outbid or giving up after the bid reached an amount that I was not willing to pay, 3-1/2-years ago, I finally had an opportunity to purchase the repoured head shown above.  After the head arrived, I found a suitable wig in my wig stash, and immediately began looking for a body to match.  I was unable to find a body until recently.  I hoped it would be a perfect match for the 05 complexion of the head.

The body, however, was a shade lighter (04), but I was determined to make it work.  My girl had been waiting on this body and it was high time to make her whole.

The Beatriz head on the left has the original 05 (or darker) complexion.  The same head is shown on the right after I painted it to match the 04 body I purchased.  The rim of the neck maintains the original color.
Initially, I was going to paint the body but realized it would be much easier to paint the head to match it, which is what I did.  Using wedge make-up sponges, I applied a mixture of brown and tan acrylic paints.  After painting the head, I blushed the cheeks with light strokes of a maroon-colored pencil and smudged the strokes with my moistened fingertip to blend.  I added lip color with acrylic paint as illustrated above.

After painting, the head and body colors match.

The body has a neck prong to add stability to the head and allow it to be turned in different positions.

With the head painted, it was time to attach it to the body, which has a neck prong as illustrated above.  With suggestions from a couple of people in the My Twinn Collectors Facebook group and the ultimate help of my husband, we opened up the small circular area underneath the neck using a Phillips screwdriver and an X-ACTO knife.

In order to attach the head to the body, the small circular area underneath the head had to be opened.

The neck plug was loosened up first with the screwdriver until the surrounding vinyl was weak enough for me to cut out the hole with the knife as illustrated next.

This photo was taken after the neck plug was removed.
The head was attached to the body after the next step was completed.

Drawing Eyebrows

Next up was the most challenging part.  I waited several weeks before mustering up enough courage to draw the eyebrows, and truth be told, I didn't draw them.

I purchased a package of adult-size eyebrow stencils hoping that I could use one to trace Beatriz's eyebrows.  That plan was aborted because the stencils were too long.  "Well, I'll just make a stencil," I thought.


To make the stencil, I cut out a piece of plastic from the cover of a Barbie box to trace one of my other doll's eyebrows onto.  I added a hole to each side of the plastic and threaded a piece of elastic through each to hold the plastic on the doll's head.
I like the shape of  Lenora's eyebrows and chose her as the eyebrow stencil model.  The horizontal length across her eyes from one eye to the other is the same as Beatriz's eye length, which is another reason she was chosen as the eyebrow model.  
Lenora's eyebrows were traced onto the plastic as illustrated above.

Beatriz wears the eyebrow stencil prior to my failed attempt to cut out the outline of the eyebrows.

I asked my husband to use the X-ACTO knife to cut out the traced eyebrow area.  He said, "You're making this too difficult."  All you need to do is draw the eyebrows on the doll with a pencil and use an eraser if you make a mistake.  (That's very easy for a person who can draw to say.) I told him about the human eyebrow stencils I had and retrieved them.

Beatriz's eyebrows have been drawn using the stencil I am holding over the drawn eyebrow.

Using the stencil I purchased, my husband said, "Just place the end of the stencil where you want the end of the eyebrow to be and trace the eyebrow.  Extend it over to this line in the center." (The stencils are lined.)  He took the stencil and drew one eyebrow, flipped the stencil over and drew the other eyebrow using an ebony-colored artist's pencil.

After one eyebrow was drawn, the same stencil was flipped over and used to draw the other eyebrow.

Drawn eyebrows

I'm not so thrilled about the width of the eyebrows or the color (I would have preferred dark brown and lighter strokes), but they will have to do for now.  The good thing is that the eyebrows can be washed off and redone if I desire.

After I made some minor stroke adjustments to the eyebrows my husband drew, I returned to my doll room with Beatriz where I found the eyebrow template I made on my desk with one of the traced eyebrows cut out.


Instead of cutting the eyebrows out beginning at the corner of the tracing as I had attempted to do, my husband cut a slit in the template that lines up with the corner of one of the eyebrows.  This made it easier for him to use scissors to cut out the traced eyebrow.  If necessary, now I can use this with ease to draw eyebrows.  Only one cutout is needed to make a perfect pair of eyebrows by tracing one eyebrow and then flipping the template over to trace the other.  He's such a genius, but if I tell him, his head will swell more than it already is.

Beatriz has eyebrows and her head and body are connected.

Beatriz's head was then placed on the body and secured in place with a zip tie as illustrated above.

Beatriz wears a stocking cap underneath her wig.  (I love her face!)

Before placing the wig, I put a knee-high stocking on Beatriz's head so the wig, which is a size too big for her head, will not fall off.  For added security, I might place Velcro strips underneath the wig and on the stocking cap. I have no plans to glue any wig on her in case I want to change the wig later.

Beatriz modeled her wig.
Getting Dressed

Several years ago, one of my friends made this dress for another one of my Twinns.


The dress has an Easter-bunny/Easter-egg-theme which Beatriz wears with infant-sized white lace ankle socks and white patent-leather shoes.


For the final photo, Beatriz posed with stuffed bunnies that I have used for Easter decorations.  I am so glad I finally have my gorgeous Bea!

__________

Click here for detailed information about the now-defunct My Twinn Doll company and here to see a lighter-complexioned Beatriz that was identified as one of the new African American and Hispanic girls at the time that web page was published.  According to Logan's Ladies (the My Twinn history link provided previously), the Beatriz head sculpt was retired in 2009 before the company closed its doors in 2013.

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

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Saturday, March 7, 2020

Extended Presale Date for Brains and Beauty Nia

Brains and Beauty Nia


03/31/20 is the last day to take advantage of the presale sale price for Brains and Beauty Nia for $69.99 + shipping. 100 preorders are needed to make Nia a reality.

Nia is an 18-inch vinyl doll with cloth mid-section. She speaks positive affirmations and her voice box can be customized. Nia has loc'd hair, which makes her the first 18-inch talking doll with locs!

Read more about her here.

Order Nia here.


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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!

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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!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

First image of the Jean Michel Basquiat Barbie collector 2020 doll

Please follow the link:
First image of the Jean Michel Basquiat Barbie collector 2020 doll

Can someone explain to me why this doll is not male?  Is it inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat, a male artist who rose to fame during the 1980s or is it supposed to represent him?  Even though I love the doll, I'm scratching my head about the doll's gender.

Read more about Jean-Michel Basquiat, the artist, here.


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

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Check out what I am selling here

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Notecard Memory Leads to Discovery


A drawn child wearing an orange fabric romper is on the cover of a framed notecard designed by illustrator and fabric creator, Freda L. Thomas ©1991.

As I was dusting the items on the bookshelf where this framed notecard is usually displayed, I noticed the corner of what appeared to be an envelope protruding from the back of the framed notecard.

The corner of a folded envelope was visible on the back of the frame.

I opened the back of the frame to examine the envelope when I rediscovered the written note dated January 25, 2009, from the late Ms. Lillian Bartok of New York.

Ms. Bartok and I had communicated by mail over a five-year period at the time the card was received and for several years afterward.  Whenever she saw articles on Black dolls or learned of Black-doll events and exhibitions, Ms. Bartok would mail the information to me to share with others.

Unframed, this is the front of the notecard.  The illustrator's unique use of hand-dyed fabric for the hand-drawn child's romper heightened my appreciation for the artwork.
The little girl on the notecard has an expression that is similar to the expression captured in a photograph of my daughter that was taken when she was three, as illustrated in the next photo.

Daughter at age 3 in a photo taken at kindergarten.  The girl's expression and my daughter's expression are similar.  My daughter is smiling but not really wanting to smile at the stranger taking the photograph.

For years, the notecard was kept with the other correspondence received from Ms. Bartok until I decided to frame it in a resin frame which has my favorite Bible scripture incised on it.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:17.

The beautifully handwritten note from Ms. Bartok reads as follows:
                         January 25, 2009

Dear Debbie,
     The thrill of January 20th is still in the air.  It has raised hopes and answered some of our prayers.
 
      In the same week the mail brings me my copy of Doll magazine and I find several articles in this issue by one of our favorite Black Doll  advocates.  I hope this year will continue to enrich our lives. 
I must thank you for your contributions to the history of dolls and especially Black Dolls which as you know are African American history!
   
     Debbie, you are to be commended for really making a difference.
   
     I wish the NAACP would give you one of their Image Awards!  You certainly deserve it.
   
     Stay well and may God grant you a long and healthy life!
                          Fondly,
                          Lillian Bartok

The February 2009 issue of DOLLS magazine (which was probably in the hands of subscribers in January 2009), contains two articles I wrote.  These are the articles I believe Ms. Bartok referred to in her kind note written on the beautiful notecard designed by Freda L. Thomas.  The back of the card is shown next.

According to the artist's LinkedIn page, Ms. Thomas no longer creates these beautiful cards.

In 2017, I was saddened to learn of Ms. Bartok's transition.  Shortly after learning of her death, I made copies of all her mailings and created a tribute board that was sent to Ms. Ellen Ferebee of Morrisania Doll Society.  The board was displayed during a Harlem tribute to Ms. Bartok and other collectors who had recently passed.

The above text was part of a tribute board created in honor of Ms. Lillian M. Bartok.

While writing this post, I was pleased to discover that Ms. Bartok's dolls were donated to the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center (NAAMCC) in Wilberforce, Ohio, where the exhibition, Playing with Identity, Selections from the Lillian M. Bartok Black Doll Collection was introduced on Saturday, April 20, 2019.  The Facebook page dedicated to the exhibition reads partly:

Lillian M. Bartok was a doll collector who believed in the importance of preserving Black dolls because they show how African American identity has changed over time.

I can attest to the fact that she believed in preserving Black doll literature because, for nearly a decade, she shared it with me.  I attempted to contact the NAAMCC to inquire if Ms. Bartok's collection is a permanent installation but was unable to reach anyone who could provide an answer.  I visited the museum's Facebook page where the following three images from Ms. Bartok's donated collection are posted in separate status updates.






Ms. Bartok was a collector after my own heart.  Her collection illustrates the progression of Black dolls -- from stereotypical caricatures to contemporary dolls by African American doll artists.  There are even some playline dolls in the mix.  If you are in the Wilberforce, Ohio area, an inquiry and/or trip to the museum to view the 800-doll donation of Ms. Lillian M. Bartok should be rewarding.

Related Links
Scroll to the bottom of this link to see more dolls from the Lillian M. Bartok Collection.
Playing with Identity-Lillian M. Bartok Black Doll Collection

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There are countless items to collect and write about. Black dolls chose me.
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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Marian Anderson and WSJHS's Dolls for Democracy and Diversity

Because it's the "born" day of renowned singer, Marian Anderson, I am republishing this blog post which was first published on February 27, 2015.

The Marian Anderson doll is made of a polymer clay for the head and lower arms/hands.  The upper arms, body, and legs are cloth with wire armature. 

In January, I found this unsigned-by-the-artist, Marian Anderson doll on eBay.  The seller was asked to share information, the name, if known of the doll’s prior owner and replied, “the late Frances Reedy from North East Ohio…I had her for a few years stored in my trunk but if you Google Frances Reedy you will find she was quite an artist and doll collector in the 1960s to 1980s, I was impressed.”
Dressed in an off-white lace dress and pantaloons, the doll wears tan stockings and white painted-on shoes with soles added.  The feet are permanently attached to a wooden base.

I conducted an extensive search to gather additional information about this approximately 10-inch tall doll, permanently attached to a square wooden base, clutching a songbook to her bosom.  By the handwritten name on the bottom of the base, the doll is identified as Marian Anderson, who was the first African American to perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1955.  During my online search, I found an identical doll owned by the Washington State Jewish Historical Society, which is part of their Dolls for Democracy and Diversity exhibit.  The exhibit is described on their website as follows:
These realistic dolls were made to be used by the B'nai B'rith around the U.S. and Canada as an inspiration to children proving that fame and success in life do not depend upon race, religion, family origins or money. B'nai B'rith Women utilized this collection of 38 handcrafted replicas of famous humanitarians in a unique program conducted in public and parochial schools from the 1950's through the 1970's. The women visited classrooms and, using these dolls, fostered dialogue about celebrating differences and overcoming adversity. In an era when diversity was a term found only in the dictionary, this program became popular among educators and volunteers alike.
Through the “contact us” link on their website, I wrote the WSJHS organization and inquired about the artist of the Marian Anderson doll.  Before my inquiry was answered, I located a link to their database listing of some of  the 38 dolls, which includes the name of the artist, Cecil Ruth Bullard Weeks.  My doll’s history was becoming more and more interesting.  She has traveled to classrooms in the United States from the 1950s through 1970s to educate non-black children on the potential for greatness of all people, regardless of race, religion, and/or other categories many humans tend to lump others into who do not share their ethnicity and/or beliefs.
As indicated by the list of dolls in the exhibit, dolls by Weeks in the likenesses of baseball great, Jackie Robinson and scientist, Dr. George Washington Carver, accompanied Anderson and the 35 others to classroom exhibits.  
Ms. Jessica Hyde, communications coordinator for WSJHS answered the inquiry sent through their website regarding the artist of the dolls.  She confirmed that all 38 dolls in the exhibit were made by Weeks with the exception of one and that, to her knowledge, of the 38, the three I have noted were the only African American dolls.*   In addition, Hyde provided a WORD document about the exhibit and the dolls’ artist, a portion of which is copied below:
The Dolls for Democracy and Diversity
This collection of thirty eight dolls [is] actually miniaturized three dimensional portraits of important figures in history.  Most of the dolls were hand made by portrait doll artist Cecil (Ruth Bullard) Weeks during the 1940s to early 1970s.  Only one doll, Wing Luke, was made in the Northwest by a doll maker from Portland, Oregon in 1992.  Women from the B’nai B’rith Society in King County and throughout the U.S. and Canada used the dolls to teach students about tolerance.  This is the first time that this doll collection is being shown to the public in their beautifully restored condition.  The dolls were recently restored by expert doll restorer Lisa Pepin of Shoreline, WA. 
The dolls represent many interesting figures in history some famous and some less known.  Wing Luke, a King County resident, was the first Asian American to hold elected office in the Northwest.  Other famous figures include Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and the first President of Israel Chaim Weitzmann .  Even more interesting are some of the lesser known figures such as Haym Salamon a Polish born Jew who helped finance the American Revolutionary War.
The birth of the Dolls for Democracy program
After World War II the Dolls for Democracy program was created by the B’nai B’rith Women’s organization (now known as Jewish Women International) in Kansas City, Missouri.  The program brought the hand- made portrait dolls of famous people in history to elementary classrooms throughout the United States and Canada.  The “Doll Ladies” gave talks to students about democracy.  They also had dolls representing individuals of different ethnic backgrounds to teach students about the concept of   tolerance.
About the Artist
Ruth Cecil Bullard Weeks (1894-1984) was an established portrait doll artist in 1951 when she was asked to make dolls for “The Fellowship House Doll Collection” as it was originally called.  She continued making the dolls when the program expanded and became known as the “Dolls for Democracy” program of the National B’nai B’rith Women.  Weeks and her husband made dolls for over 90 BBW Chapters across the country. There were at least 95 subject figures used in the program.  Not all were made by the Weeks who stopped making the dolls in the early 1970”s.  It has been estimated that Weeks and her husband James (J.S.) made over one thousand dolls for BBW Chapters around the country. 
Weeks made more than one of each doll for the Dolls for Democracy and Diversity exhibit.  The total sets of dolls made are unknown.  I know of three Marian Anderson dolls:  the one I own, the one the WSJHS website (formerly) linked to, and one owned by the collector who informed me about the eBay auction I won.  (Thank you D.S.)
The high cheekbones of the real Marian Anderson are captured in the doll by Weeks as shown in the above close-up image of the doll and the singer.

On this day, February 27th, of my 2015 wall calendar, in observation of her date of birth, Marian Anderson is described as:  “one of the 20th century’s most celebrated singers who became a symbol of the struggle to overcome discrimination in the arts, born, 1897.”  Happy birthday, Ms. Anderson, may you continue to rest your body and beautiful contralto voice in peaceful paradise. 
For additional information about the WSJHS and/or the Dolls for Democracy and Diversity Exhibit, please visit their website to inquire.  For more information about Marian Anderson, visit her official website

Related Links
WSJHS's Traveling Doll Exhibits
*This article includes a Dr. MLK doll; so there were at least four AA dolls in the series.
List and Thumbnail Images of Some of the Dolls for Democracy

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

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Check out what I am selling here
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