Women of Valor

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Doll Philosophy

Beatrice Alexander, 1895 - 1990

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"What is a doll? The dictionary says a doll is 'a small scale figure, a toy,' but to me it is much, much more. A doll can be your baby or your friend. I always say, 'You can tell your dolly your secrets and you may be sure she will keep them.'

"A doll is an introduction to the past, a living history of different people and distant lands. Each one tells us so much about themselves. They speak in a voice all their own.

"Dolls are full of adventure. They have crossed oceans and settled new lands. Why, once, during the Civil War, dolls smuggled medicine to the wounded soldiers.

"Dolls live in all times, in all lands, but most of all, dolls live in the hearts of children. That is where they truly come alive."


Alexander believed strongly that, more than simple playthings, dolls were tools that could stimulate children's minds, emotions, and imaginations."Dolls," she said, "should contribute to a child's understanding of people, other times and other places. Dolls should develop an appreciation of art and literature in a child." They could also help children learn how to relate to others.

With these goals in mind, Alexander chose her subjects carefully. As a child, she herself had often escaped the drabness of everyday life by immersing herself in poetry and novels, and she returned to literature in search of characters she believed could act as effective teaching tools.History, the arts, fashion, and the cultures of the world also provided her with inspiration. From Romeo and Juliet to Cinderella, southern belles to Chinese children, outrageous flappers to demure ladies, Alexander's creations delighted young and old alike.

Wanting the child to remain the active participant in play, Alexander avoided gimmicks and mechanical devices in her dolls. "I never do mechanical dolls," she said. "I don't make dolls that dance, walk or talk. I think that the child is the one who should be inspired to do things with the doll. Dolls can bring out the creative instincts in children."

Notes: 
  1. Quote beginning "Dolls should contribute..." cited in Stephanie Finnegan, et. al., Madame Alexander Dolls: An American Legend (Portfolio Press, 1999), 49.
  2. Quote beginning "As a child learns..." from "Madame Alexander: The Commemorative Album," Music and Lyrics by John Braden ASCAP ©1978
  3. Quote beginning "I never do mechanical dolls..." cited in John Axe, "Exclusive Doll Reader Interview with Madame Alexander," Doll Reader, April 1984: 89.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Beatrice Alexander - Doll Philosophy." (Viewed on April 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/alexander/doll-philosophy>.