Midwest Old Threshers of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and the Hawkeye Doll Club of Iowa hold an annual one day doll event. This year’s was held June 28, 2008. The subject of this year’s was “Return to the Prairie” and “Dolls of Distinction.” I previewed my new Laura program “Laura Ingalls Wilder: What a Doll” which talks about dolls in Laura’s life and fandom. Mary Kopsiecker brought in her collection of Laura dolls which include such rare items as an early 1970s Charlotte doll from Burr Oak and a china head doll purchased in Mansfield in 1981. Mary also shared information about the bus trip we took last year to Malone and a letter she would have written to Laura as a child.
Thelma Kirkman shared a history quilt she made including things like square showing animals the Ingalls family knew and a secret panel with Wilder information under it. She also showed some double sided cloth dolls she made to represent the Ingalls family. The ones in their red flannel night gowns were very sweet.
The afternoon featured dolls from the Bussey Collection. It was gifted to Old Threshers by Wilma Bussey who had collected the dolls and wanting to keep them together gifted them to Old Threshers which she attended every year. In the chapter “Town Party” in On the Banks of Plum Creek Laura describes a china doll. The afternoon featured talks on dolls made by 3 of the major china doll manufacturers. They all were in Germany which had a very active doll and toy industry until the World Wars blocked trade with other countries and starved them for markets. Makers featured were Kestner “King of Dollmakers”, Armand Marseilles, and Kammer & Reinhard.
Glenna Voyles outdid herself putting together a display of Wilder dolls from her own collection.
The highlight was the dolls made from 1975 to 2007 by Dorothy Nazarenus of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. This stalwart of the Walnut Grove gift shop is on display in a complete background and furniture display created by Glenna’s husband. (See photos) There are also many china head dolls as part of this display and some unique dolls created to look of the era. This display will be up through the Old Threshers event which concludes on Labor Day.
The doll display is part of the Heritage Museum. Its hours:
Open Daily – Memorial Day to Labor Day 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Open Weekends – Memorial Day to Labor Day 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Adults $5.00 per person
Kids 14 and under free with adult, Visit their website here: http://www.oldthreshers.org/
UPDATE: As of October 2013 this is one of top 10 posts of all time for the number of views on this blog. It’s rare that a week goes by without at least one hit on this post. The Hawkeye Doll Club continues to host its excellent event every year with a different theme, but the basic dolls of the collection are on display any time the Heritage Museums are open on the Midwest Old Threshers Grounds in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa including a great many of the china headed dolls like Nellie owned. This program led to my crossing the Rubicon and while before this one of the few limits to my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection was not to get dolls, I was so taken by them that I have begun to collect Laura Ingalls Wilder dolls. I’ve continued to expand my Laura Ingalls Wilder: What a Doll! program that I debuted at this event as I discover new facts and find new dolls. Although it remains a dark horse, I usually still get requests for it once or twice a year and I even presented in at the 2012 National Laura Ingalls Wilder conference. While I have included other information about Laura dolls from time to time in other posts, this post remains far and away the most popular. I hope you continue to enjoy it.
Sarah S. Uthoff is main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.