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Dolls

Freedom Stories

The first books I ever fell in love with were the American Girl books. The American Girl Company as a whole was a big part of my childhood, and its influence is still with me today: if it weren’t for it and Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” I don’t know if I would have passed US History last year. Educational value aside, the books have held up as fantastic examples of children’s literature, with their beautiful illustrations, interesting historical notes in the margins, diverse characters (including their cast of thirteen young female protagonists), and, most importantly to me, simple but solid stories.

Beatrice Alexander

Beatrice Alexander's sharp business sense and her uncompromising attention to detail made her the most successful and best-loved doll manufacturer of her time.

Beatrice Alexander

"Madame" Beatrice Alexander knew how to dream big. Born into a world in which many women worked but few achieved prominence in business, she built her own company virtually singlehandedly. Raised amidst teeming poverty, she amassed a significant fortune. From the obscurity of an immigrant neighborhood, she became one of the foremost female entrepreneurs of the twentieth century.

Musings on Rebecca Rubin, Our Jewish American Girl

After years in the making, she's finally arrived: The Jewish American Girl Doll. We've been hearing a lot about her over the past week and, on Sunday, she hit the store shelves.

Ruth Mosko Handler

Best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, Ruth Mosko Handler combined her marketing genius with her husband Elliot Handler’s creative designs to form the toy company Mattel, Inc. Starting in their garage in 1939, the Handlers produced Lucite gifts, wooden picture frames, and dollhouse furniture before developing their first toy, the Uke-A-Doodle, in 1947. The success of the Uke-A-Doodle was followed by a series of rubber-belt-driven musical toys, including the Jack-in-the-Box, as well as toy guns such as a Winchester rifle replica. Yet it was the Barbie doll, created in 1959, that “ran off the counter.” Thirty years later, sales of the doll that Handler named after her daughter exceeded one billion dollars.

Beatrice Alexander

Beatrice Alexander established her doll business in her home in 1923, and since then the Madame Alexander Doll Company has created more than 5,000 different dolls. Employing more than 650 people at its factory in Harlem, New York, the Alexander Doll Company is one of the largest doll manufacturing companies in the United States.

Goodbye, Barbie. Hello, Bratz.

If the doll industry is any measure of today’s commodified standard of beauty, assimilation is out and multi-ethnic is in. Forty-eight years have passed since Barbie came to represent the ultimate American fantasy: a leggy, blonde-haired, teeny-waisted preeminence of elegance, with a flamingo pink sports car and Ken by her side. Despite Mattel’s attempts to recreate and diversify Barbie’s identity to reflect social trends and more eclectic “girl” activities, Barbie has had trouble keeping up with the times, even if she does wear a tallit.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Dolls." (Viewed on August 29, 2014) <http://jwa.org/tags/dolls>.

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