1927 – U.S. ships 12,000 dolls to Japan

I’ve always enjoyed reading, but lately I couldn’t find a book to keep my attention. Still determined, I kept searching the online library for that special book to read. BINGO, I came across a book by Shirley Parenteau, “Ship of Dolls.”

A ship full of dolls, the title caught my attention. I wanted to know more. What was this ship of dolls and was it a true story? Apparently, this is a true story. This particular book is a work of fiction / historical novel, but there are other books that tell the exact story. I had NO idea.

This Friendship Doll exchange began in response to the Immigration Act of 1924. This Act banned the immigration of Japanese and other Asian nationals into the U.S..

In 1927, Sidney Gulick, an educator and missionary, together with the Protestant churches on the East Coast collected over 12,000 dolls from American children and sent them to Japanese children as a gesture of goodwill and friendship. Gulick started the Friendship Doll project to express his disagreement with the Immigration Act of 1924. He wanted children in the world to appreciate peace and friendship. Diplomacy through children / gift giving.

Eiichi Shibusawa an industrialist, wanted to return the gesture, so manufactured 58 Japanese Dolls and sent them to America. When tensions between U.S. and Japan grew during World War II, Japan destroyed some of the American dolls. American museums kept the Japanese dolls out of exhibition during this time.

Here’s a YouTube video: ARTifacts: Japanese Friendship Doll.

This is a fascinating part of history. I just started reading the Ship of Dolls, so cannot offer a review. As you see, I got side tracked from the book, while researching the Friendship Dolls.

Now, back to reading the book…

Toy Collection — Do you remember Raggedy Ann?

Dolls, how many people are familiar with “Raggedy Ann?” When my mother grew up as a child in Italy, she didn’t have a doll. She must have longed for one, because when we were young she was ALWAYS looking for Raggedy Ann dolls.

When we walked through antique shops, she always found one. There were different sizes and styles as the doll kept evolving over the years. You can see in the YouTube video, this woman has quite a collection. I noticed the original dolls had orangey hair, not bright red and the doll is known for her triangular nose.

As I researched, I found that Johnny Gruelle (illustrator from Illinois) was the creator of Raggedy Ann. His daughter Marcella brought him a old rag doll, he drew a face on the doll and named it Raggedy Ann. His daughter loved her doll, so he created a book/doll combo (got a patent in 1915) and started selling in 1918. First dolls were delivered to Chicago! Many books followed.

Finally, Chicago is known for more than Al Capone / gangsters. I had no idea!

This is interesting, 75,000 handmade dolls were made between 1918-1926 by a toy company in Michigan called, “Unbreakabale Toy Company.” In 2018, the town of Muskegon celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Raggedy Ann and Andy. Yes, Raggedy Ann eventually had a brother, Raggedy Andy.

In 2002 Raggedy Ann was voted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. In 2007, Raggedy Andy, her brother, joined her.

My Mom will be so surprised to hear that her beloved Raggedy Ann was the creation of a man from Chicago.

And as Paul Harvey would say, “And now you now… the rest of the story.”