Anacostia Community Museum
1901 Fort Place SE
Community Gallery Floor Plan
Arabella Grayson's interest in finding paper playthings that looked like her evolved into a passionate journey. This exhibition featuring 110 dolls from her collection looks at the history of black paper dolls, beginning with an image of Topsy, one of the early African American paper dolls made in 1863 to promote the book Uncle Tom's Cabin. The paper dolls presented provide an accurate reflection of social changes, illustrate attitudes and societal perceptions, and too often, depict the caricatures and ethnic stereotypes that define the place, role, and status of people of African origin in society.
Also on view from her collection are paper dolls from Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden.