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


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  1. Thanks for another instructive post. Thanks for your dedication. I am glad you were able to get the two dolls.

    1. You're welcome. It's always nice to complete a search for a sought-after doll. It's almost like winning the lottery. Almost.

      Thank you for sharing my joy.


  2. Congratulations on your find! Your post was very enlighting, thank you for sharing this information.


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