• NCR Regional Archeology Program

    NCR Regional Archeology Program


Themes in Time

Playthings of the Past — Dolls


Dolls, late 19th– early 20th-century.

Dolls can be made from any number of materials. Rags, wooden spoons, or corn husks were often fashioned into human figures, brought to life through the imagination of a child. Unfortunately, organic materials do not hold up very well underground. Porcelain, however, usually survives relatively intact.

Porcelain doll parts first became widely available in Europe around 1820. The doll-making industry established in southern Germany supplied porcelain doll parts for most of the world during the early to middle nineteenth century. The period from 1860 to 1890 was the heyday of the elaborately dressed fashion doll. Germany continued to be the world center of doll production until the early twentieth century.

These porcelain doll heads, arms, and legs would have been attached to a stuffed, fabric body. This type of doll dates primarily to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. They were recovered near the Washington Monument in downtown Washington, D.C., Rock Creek Park, and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

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