Meet Annie

Today is a snow day…and who does not love snow days?!?  Each time we get a snow storm that is nasty enough to close the CHS, I feel like a kid again (albeit a kid who has to shovel out a car and get some semblance of actual work done at home regardless of the snow day…like writing this blog post).  This afternoon I was spending a few moments working in my sewing room and looked over to see one of my favorite items from my childhood and realized that she would make a perfect snow-day blog post…well her and her great-great-grandmother…

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Dolly and Veda’s doll.

I’d like to introduce you to Dolly.  She’s the one on the left with the black hair (I’ll tell you about her friend on the right a little later).  Dolly was made by my mother and given to me the Christmas just after I turned two.  She was my absolute best friend when I was little.  We did everything together.  We went to New Salem, loved to swing on the swing set, constantly went on adventures, and basically did everything together for many years.  Over the years Dolly has undergone several repairs.  If you look closely you can see the patches on her feet, and the sewn together holes on her face; plus she is on her second head of hair and her third embroidered face.  Needless to say, she has been loved.

So what does Dolly have to do with CHS?  Well, I’ll tell you.  In 2012 a new doll came to CHS.  The doll was clearly loved and even came with the name given her by her previous owner.  Her name was Annie.  I immediately saw the resemblance between Annie and Dolly and sent a cell-phone picture to my mother telling her I’d just met Dolly’s great-great-grandmother.

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Doll. About 1880. Given on behalf of Eva Kelsey Peck Smith. 2012.492.2.

Annie was created for a young girl named Caroline Wood in the early 1880s.  Her braided yarn hair (Dolly’s was braided when I got her), body shape, and even her little embroidered face reminded me of my own beloved doll.  Caroline must have loved her doll and played with her often as the stains and faded clothing indicate.  Annie came with a number of accessories, such as a second dress, pair of shoes, two hats, and a coat.  Each piece was lovingly created for a little girl who must have meant quite a lot to someone.

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Doll. About 1880. Given in memory of Eva Kelsey Peck Smith. 2012.494.2a-j.

My mother started a tradition of making a doll for each daughter, niece, nephew, and grandchild of hers for Christmas after they turned two.  I decided to keep the tradition alive and borrowed my mother’s pattern to make a very special doll for my own niece, Veda.

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Veda’s doll.

Although Annie and Dolly were made approximately 100 years apart, they are so similar I couldn’t help but connect on a very personal level to this new addition to the CHS collection.  Something as simple as a beloved doll reminded me that the past isn’t just something we read about in textbooks or occasionally see portrayed in movies.  It is something that is part of us, every single day.  We are constantly reminded of our own pasts that are often connected to the pasts of others in unusual ways.  Annie helps me remember what it was like to be a young girl with a best friend who would do anything with you…and in a very odd way she makes me feel connected to a woman who has long since left both her youth and the world behind.  Annie and Caroline must have been quite the pair.

*Update: upon returning to work today I double-checked some names and realized the doll belonged originally to Caroline Wood, not Eva Kelsey Peck Smith as originally noted.  Caroline eventually gave the doll to her friend Eva and the doll was donated to CHS on Eva’s behalf.

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About Karen

Karen DePauw is a Research and Collections Associate at The Connecticut Historical Society. Along with aiding patrons who visit the museum in their research efforts, Karen works behind the scenes with the costume and textile collection. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History, double minoring in Theatre and Theology, from Quincy University. Karen obtained her Master of Science degree at the University of Rhode Island in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design, with a specialization in Historic Costumes and Textiles.

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