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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Black Dolls

New-York Historical Society Museum and Library / New York / Art

Dolls may be charming but they are not always innocent. The New York Historical Society’s exhibition “Black Dolls,” examines how doll play formed racial stereotypes between 1840 and 1940. It features more than 100 handmade cloth dolls, many from the private collection of Deborah Neff, as well as dolls made commercially in the early 20th century. The exhibition urges viewers to engage in difficult conversations and meditations on the legacy of racism and slavery in the United States. It asks: How can something as simple as a doll—and seemingly harmless—be such a potent object in the development of early racial bias in young children, especially girls. —Sophie Kemp

New-York Historical Society Museum and Library 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, USA
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