INSIGHTS INTO PAST GENERATIONS
The dolls in the museum’s world-renowned collection offer insights into the values, manners, and mores of past generations, interpret the costumes and cultures of native and foreign peoples, and reflect the aesthetics and history of the international doll industry.
They range from Egyptian funerary figures (c. 1500 BC) to 20th-century collectible dolls, including 19th-century porcelain European play dolls, international travel dolls, “Whimsies,” American cloth dolls, and rare 19th-century Native American and Inuit dolls.
ELIZABETH RICHARDS HORTON
The Elizabeth Richards Horton International Doll Collection—one of only two collections in the world to remain intact for more than 100 years—containing dolls from turn-of-the-century celebrities and royals, and Miss Columbia, the doll who traveled around the world from 1900 to 1902.
Over the years, in an effort to expand her collection, Mrs. Horton wrote to officials, celebrities, and the crown heads of Europe, to reuqest donations to her collection. Many personalities of note responded and the collection still contains dolls from Queen Victoira, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandra, Admiral Byrd and Cecil Rhodes, among others.
A highlight of the IDC is Miss Columbia, the museum’s most famous doll. A cloth Columbian doll designed and manufactured by Emma and Marietta Adams of Oswego, N.Y., Miss Columbia traveled around the world by herself from 1900 to 1902 raising funds for children’s charities. She is often displayed with her travel diary and souvenirs. In the year 2000, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of her voyage, a reproduction Miss Columbia was sent around the United States to elementary schools with her own curriculum and Web-based journal.
Due to the renovation of our main exhibit spaces, it was necessary to place many of the dolls safely in storage, but visitors can rest assured that we will do our best to include part of the collection in our special exhibitions. Currently, our Frozen and Tiny Things exhibits feature many of our dolls and miniatures from our collection! Doll collectors and clubs are welcome to view the collection by appointment. Please call the museum’s main number(978-468-2377 x113) to be directed to the appropriate staff member.