Thursday, April 1, 2010

FAMU Showcases African-American Doll Collection

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Carrie Meek-James N. Eaton Sr. Black Archives Research Center and Museum at FAMU presented the “Black Like Me: The Dr. Annie B. Henry African-American Doll Collection.”

“Women of color have contributed tremendously to American history and Florida history, and we certainly wanted to celebrate the women of Florida A&M University,” said Murrell Dawson, archivist and curator of the Meek-Eaton Black Archives. “It was an honor to end the month with this particular celebration.”

Henry’s collection of more than 350 dolls and figurines represents yet another example of a woman’s struggle to find self-representation and equality in all things including one of civilization’s oldest toys — the doll.

“There are so many messages that these dolls represent,” said Henry, a Jacksonville native. “If these dolls could speak, what would they say?”

Henry earned her master’s degree from FAMU in 1969 and then her doctorate in philosophy in education from Florida State University. She received her first black doll as a graduation gift.

This doll was named “Dr. Annie” and was the beginning of Henry’s love and search for black dolls.

The collection included famous African Americans, rag, wedding, darkey, Topsy Turvy and slavery dolls.

“You cannot tell me we are not gorgeous and intelligent; I wanted to show that through the dolls,” Henry said.

Dawson says more than anything, she hopes the doll collection will inspire, motivate and encourage students to continue in their endeavors.

“It certainly is something that makes you feel good about yourself — about being a person of color,” said Dawson. “I thank Dr. Henry for the gift and I think it’s going to be used for many years not only at FAMU but throughout our local community, the state and our nation.”

Henry added that the dolls serve as an educational tool.

“We are each other’s keeper,” Henry said. “It’s important to give the dolls to the next generation. I love to see the kids looking at the dolls. It’s like Christmas for them; it’s amazing.”

The Dr. Annie B. Henry African-American Doll Collection has been displayed throughout northern Minnesota and in several Florida cities.


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