ERIC Number: EJ701955
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Mar-25
Reference Count: N/A
More than Child's Play: North Carolina Professor Explores the History of Dolls and Their Sociological Impact
Yates, Eleanor Lee
Black Issues in Higher Education, v21 n3 p34 Mar 2004
For Dr. Sabrina Thomas, dolls are not just child's play. In fact, they are the subject of her research, which recently landed her a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Thomas, an assistant professor of family and consumer sciences at North Carolina Central University, was awarded the grant to write a book on the history of Black dolls as a sociology of Black childhood. Thomas' book, "History of Black Dolls as a Sociology of Black Children", explores the history of dolls and their far-reaching sociological impact. It examines Black doll production, location and how the dolls were advertised. Thomas explains how dolls were used as racial uplift even though the first mass-produced Black dolls fall into the servant category and were meant for White children. Thomas believes issues of race, class and gender can be examined in toys and dolls created for children. "The way we represent diversity in the toy industry still reflects racial discourse; I don't think there is true diversity when Black dolls are just dipped in different skin colors. The uniqueness of race isn't even acknowledged," she said. Over the years, Thomas has amassed more than 300 Black dolls, including a rare 1915 composition baby doll she named Sara. "The dolls are the manifestation of problems in our society; it's not about making prettier dolls. I think these dolls are beautiful examples of art," she said. They are, after all, just the messengers.
Descriptors: African American Children, Play, Consumer Science, Toys, Social Class, Socialization, Gender Differences, Race
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York (Rochester); North Carolina