A collection of dolls found in the LSU Libraries Special Collections and representing a variety of different world cultures, fashions and materials is available online in the Louisiana Digital Library. The dolls represented in the Edith Dabney Doll Collection offer an informative look at the transformation of doll-making across the globe, from a span of the early eighteenth century to the late twentieth century.
Special Collections acquired the majority of the collection in the 1960s after the death of Edith Dabney, a retired professor of speech and costume design at LSU. Her private collection of dolls exceeded 300 dolls, some dating back to the 1700s. The doll collection has been featured in a few physical exhibitions both in Hill Memorial and at the Textile Museum.
The digital collection features photographs of over eighty of Dabney’s dolls. There are several angles of the dolls which detail a range of distinguishing materials and dress fabric. Some dolls also feature close-up shots of the face or other unique characteristics. Each doll includes a description, often with information about the doll’s origin, distinctive dress, and how they were acquired.
The dolls originate from all over the world, including but not limited to: Scotland, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and China. Most of the dolls in the collection wear clothes that reflect this cultural diversity and convey a unique story. The “Hua Moo Lan” doll represents a sixteenth century Chinese heroine who bravely disguised herself as a male soldier and led her country into battle. The doll features an elaborate hair-dress, painted features and an intricate dress featuring feathers. The “Bali authentic doll” from the island of Bali is made in the figure of Tijili, the symbol of fertility and good fortune. The doll is made from hand-woven straw like material, a dramatic fan like head, with decorative earrings. With each meticulously designed costume, the collection offers a unique glimpse into the national dress across the globe.
View the Edith Dabney Doll digital collection at: