During the Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt initiated a number of programs to get people back to work. Many of these programs were under the Works Progress Administration and during this time many roads, parks, and public buildings were constructed, providing many jobs for the unemployed. There were also programs in arts and education. One such program employed women during the mid to late 1930s to make dolls that would be used as educational tools in the classroom, dolls dressed to depict various historical periods in the western culture and dolls that portrayed the diverse countries and ethnic cultures throughout the world.
These fourteen dolls are those made to depict the dress from different cultures and ethnicities of the world. The countries that I can identify are Russia, Holland, Japan, China, several Slovic countries, an African nation and perhaps Spain or Mexico. The dolls vary in height from 11" to 13" depending on the hairstyle and hats. All of the bodies are made of a felt-like material and the hair is made of yarn, but fashionably styled. None of the arms were constructed with fingers. The faces are painted on. The clothing has great detail with lace, buttons, netting, beading, embroidery, belts and buckles, petty coats and pantaloons; the leather shoes are all pretty much styled the same way, very simplistic and rustic. Other shoes are made out of cloth to depict wooden shoes from Holland and the shoes worn in the Far East. There is some fading on the clothes, but considering they have been around for almost 80 years, they are in remarkable condition. They have been in my possession for about 20 years (smoke-free); I purchased them from the estate of the lady who made the dolls.
The photos don't do these treasures justice, and I will send additional photos of each doll if requested. Please contact us if you have any questions.
I am selling these as a set and will not divide the dolls at this time.
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Rare Find! Set of 14 WPA Ethnically Dressed Dolls