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The Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society chronicles the history of our region from American Indian occupation through 20th century industry and life.

African-American Dolls Placed on Exhibit

African American Dolls

Dolls from Breanna Dubbs’ small collection of African-American & Native American dolls

The Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society has recently placed on display a small collection of African-American dolls, dating from the early 1900s through the end of that century. They are from the private collection of Breanna Dubbs.

Still in her teens, Breanna Dubbs is a serious collector of African-American and Native American dolls. Her collection began with a gift from her grandmother. The gift was several Native American rag dolls owned by Breanna’s great-great grandmother and dating from the time of the Civil War. The family was of the Chippewa tribe. This nucleus of dolls inspired Breanna to continue collecting dolls which reflected her heritage. The collection has been enriched by dolls collected by family members and presented to Breanna. This includes the New Orleans Washerwomen which were obtained as souvenirs during the 20th century.

Concerning this portion of her collection, Breanna writes, “The Washer Woman collection starts with a Doll which was played with by Baba [her great, great grandmother] in about 1900. Baba had a collection of souvenir dolls all very stereotypical and a little derogatory towards race. The Washer Women collection includes an oil painting from about 1920’s of washer women in New Orleans. The artist is Evlyn Rita Hancock Anseman (1918-2010) a Caucasian woman from Metairie, Louisiana. The painting echoes the dolls which were purchased in New Orleans. The women are all depicted with turbans on their heads and in clothing made from colorful prints.”

Also included in the exhibit are a Raggedy Ann, dressed in African cloth, a Gambina rag doll, and several dolls which depict Little Eva, or possibly Topsy, from the literary classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Although the dolls were placed on display during Black History Month, they will remain on display throughout the first half of the year. In the future, the museum will be displaying Breanna’s collection of Native American dolls.

The museum, located at 858 W. Fourth Street, Williamsport, is open for touring Tuesdays through Fridays, 9:30am until 4 pm, and Saturdays, 11am until 4 pm. Admission is charged to view the museum.

For further details, please visit our website at or telephone 570.326.3326.