Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » A Paper Doll, 1935

A Paper Doll, 1935

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 04, 2009

Although I see virtually no use of paper dolls in the last 38 years of The Friend (a search of “paper doll” at turns up only 16 hits, most of which are suggestions to teachers and Sharing Time leaders for use of teaching aids; only one appears to be a page printed in The Friend for kids to cut out and play with), paper dolls were a staple in the old Children’s Friend. Sometimes the dolls would illustrate the theme of an issue. Most often the twelve paper dolls in a year’s issues would have a theme of their own.

The paper dolls printed in 1935 illustrated the traditional dress of a dozen cultures around the world (not surprisingly, a very common theme for a year’s worth of dolls in the Children’s Friend). You’d expect a girl in a drindl skirt representing Germany, maybe a boy in a fur parka illustrating Eskimos, and that’s true of most of the dolls — but this one I didn’t expect for some reason.

Your thoughts?



  1. The prayer rug was a nice touch (and I mean that sincerely). ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — September 4, 2009 @ 9:51 am

  2. Wow, yeah, wasn’t expecting that. But why not?

    The girl’s expression looks angry, though. I wonder if that was a deliberate attempt to make the girl look “other”? Or if it’s simply “illustrator FAIL”? Probably the latter, given the generally respectful nature of the write-up.

    Comment by Hunter — September 4, 2009 @ 11:30 am

  3. I’m just curious. What are the copyright rules on your posts?

    Comment by Alpha Echo — September 4, 2009 @ 11:47 am

  4. Thanks for responding, bfwebster and Hunter. I kind of like her exotic look, but I don’t know that we can read much more into such a simple line drawing.

    Alpha Echo, if you mean rules for using my posts, please link to Keepa rather than reposting material on your own site. If you mean my rules for selecting materials, I follow fair use as I understand it. If you have specific questions or complaints, then please write to me at the address on the “About” page, identify yourself and explain why you’re asking (you don’t appear to be a regular Keepa participant, and I won’t discuss such matters with a pseudonym). [I apologize if I misread you and this sounds churlish; always before when someone has inquired about copyright, they challenged me about breaking their interpretation of the copyright law — even down to my posting of my own Tribune columns here.]

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 4, 2009 @ 12:07 pm

  5. Given the time period this doesn’t surprise me very much. This was before the creation of Israel created major Mideast conflict, before “Muslim” became a synonym for “terrorist”, and when most Arab states were still colonies of European powers rather than oil-enriched, religious countries that we find threatening. It is somewhat disturbing that the doll is a kitschy representation of a ‘cultural curiousity’, but I actually think that’s slightly better than many of the cultural attitudes toward Muslims you find in the US and Europe today.

    Comment by FoxyJ — September 4, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

  6. Good points, FoxyJ. It’s impossible to know without other examples from this set, but ALL the paper dolls used that year would probably qualify as “kitschy representations” — stereotypical wooden shoes or blonde braids or lederhosen or whatever.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — September 4, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

  7. Ardis,

    Kitschy, perhaps, but I give them an A for effort. All in all, I read it as properly respectful, and may have prompted some discussions about modesty in different cultures. Nice find. This is way more respectful than the current discussion over at BCC…(sigh)

    Comment by kevinf — September 4, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

  8. I seem to remember leafing through my parents’ extensive collection of Friend magazines as a child and being particularly interested in the paper dolls. This would have been 1970s-era Friend magazines. I remember in particular, a beautiful paper doll of Aurelia Spencer Rogers with several intricate period costumes. That probably would have been from 1978 for the celebration of the 100th birthday of the primary. It seems like much of the artwork from that time period is not available online.

    Interesting post!

    Comment by Researcher — September 4, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

  9. Not only does this predate the state of Israel but also predates World War II. International travel was expensive and a place like Algeria was not well known and would have been very exotic. I wonder if any church members had ever even been to Algeria in 1935?

    Comment by J paul — September 4, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  10. Thanks for replying to my comment. I use a pseudonym because I don’t like using my real name online. I usually only emerge from lurking to ask a question.

    But I’ve loved paper dolls since I was a little girl. My mom saved some paper dolls from the Children’s Friend and kept for years. My sisters and I would photocopy the clippings and color the dolls.

    About four year ago I was living in Provo and I decided to look up old issues of the Children’s Friend at the BYU library. I found at least ten years worth of paper dolls and photocopied all the ones I liked.

    Since that time I’ve been scanning the photocopies into the computer and cleaning up the lines of the dolls, turning the files into black and white PNG images that can be reprinted. I’ve also tinkered with the original art a little.

    I’ve thought about posting the dolls on a blog or something but have hesitated because of copyright issues. I think I will refrain from posting because of the alterations I have made. I wouldn’t want to get in trouble with the church or the original artist or take away from their art. But your post with a paper doll made me wonder.

    Thanks. Sorry about the long comment!

    Comment by Alpha Echo — September 4, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

  11. Alpha Echo, you ought to contact Intellectual Reserve (c/o the church office address — 50 East North Temple, SLC, 84150) to ask about posting your collection. I have no idea what they would say, but the number you’re talking about surely goes beyond fair use. It’s a fascinating idea and I think a site that could be very popular, if you were able to do it.

    (No problem about using a pseudonym. As I mentioned, people asking about copyright usually accuse me of breaking the law. I won’t argue about that with someone who won’t identify himself. But as far as commenting goes, you’re perfectly welcome to use any decent handle.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 4, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

  12. Fascinating!

    Comment by ESO — September 4, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

  13. I loved paper dolls when I was young. My friends and I played with them a lot. Since then, I have been interested in the paper dolls which appeared in the Church magazines. I even tried my hand at drawing them in my younger years.

    Comment by Maurine — September 5, 2009 @ 11:37 am

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