Celebrating history with dolls

February 26, 2009 3:39:18 PM PST
With Black History Month drawing to a close a Newark, Delaware woman is celebrating her African American heritage, through a rather unusual collection of dolls, each one tells a tale of pain and perseverance.

It all started with one doll Brenda Mosely paid a couple of bucks for in a local antique shop.

"I kept looking at her and I said she's so beautiful with the dimples and I brought her home and I made her an outfit."

That was in 1979, since then Mosely has bought and clothed more than a thousand African-American dolls. One room holds dolls wearing Mosely's hand stitched clothes another room is filled with dolls of all kinds.

"We have glamour dollas, we have a bride dolla, grandmom and grandpop, Happy to be Nappy."

From Happy to be Nappy to an early 19-hundred antique made of plaster of Paris, Mosely has them all, including a room that depicts African American history, from the look-a-like figures of Harriett Tubman and Sojourner Truth to wet nurses, slaves who breast fed their master's children. And then there is a Topsy Turvey doll, a doll created when black and white children were not permitted to play with dolls that didn't look like themselves.

"So that's the black side and this is the white side. That's what they used to do."

From rag dolls to the dozens of baby dolls in cribs and high chairs, Mosely dreams of one day sharing her collection in a real museum, so children can learn black is beautiful and painful times in history must be learned.

One room even represents four generations of grandmothers in Mosely's and her husband's family. The doll representing Mosely's mother wears her own pearls and shawl, something her grandchildren will always cherish.

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