I’m so glad I’m not the only historian with a dolly fetish! Clio Bluestocking, the intrepid CC instructor and scholar of Frederick Douglass and the women in his family sent in her report about what she did this summer at an NEH institute in Baltimore. On a field trip to a Civil War museum in Virginia, she found a Frederick Douglass action figure! Go check it out. She writes, “He even has a small copy of The Narrative, as well as a pissed off expression. Notice, too, that he was on sale. This picture was not taken in the gift shop, but in my hotel room because, yes, I bought it. (And I just realized how creepy it sounds to say that I bought a Frederick Douglass.)” This of course connects back to my post on Thursday about Marla Miller opening her book with a discussion of Colonial Barbie, and our discussion in the comments. Why do some dolls based on historical periods or individuals get produced, and others don’t? Many of you noted the elite and healthy bias of the historical dolls, compared to the miserable reality of the lives of most people in the past.
A few years ago, Dr. Mister Historiann found some Seven Years’ War era lead figurines–made by a company that mostly makes lead soldiers, I’m sure, but to their credit they also made some civilian victims of war, too–and he gave them to me for my birthday. So here are my English captives with their co-captors, who appear to be both Iroquois and Algonquian. (Unlikely, unless they were Catholic mission Indians, but wev.) You’ve never seen a 30-something year old woman so excited about a birthday gift as I was that year!
The Euro-American captives look pretty miserable–no mantuas here, just shifts and petticoats (although the mother sports a mob cap.) The Indian captors look very well-nourished, which may or may not have been the case by the 1750s, depending on the date and local conditions. But because these are figures meant to represent wartime, no one looks terribly happy to be there.