Black Dolls - La collection Deborah Neff

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Black Dolls la collection Deborah Neff is a bilingual publication printed in French and English in 2018 to accompany an exhibition at La Maison Rogue in Paris. The book features more than 140 photographs from Deborah Neff’s extraordinary collection, an introduction from Nora Philippe, and essays from contributors Robin Bernstein, Deborah Willis, Patricia Williams, Madelyn Shaw, and Helene Joubert. 

Expressions of resilience and creativity, perseverance and pride, love and longing: The handmade Black dolls that populate this book have a lot to say. Stitched largely by Black women for their own children or white youngsters under their care, the dolls were ingeniously crafted from materials at hand.

  • English Translations begin on page 72
  • 272 pages
  • paperback
  • 6.3 x 0.79 x 8.66 inches
  • by Philippe Nora, Deborah Neff, Robin Bernstein, Deborah Willis, Patricia Williams, Madelyn Shaw, and Helene Joubert.
  • Ellen McDermott Photography

Black Dolls
(February 25 -- June 5, 2022) explores handmade cloth dolls made primarily by African American women between 1850 and 1940 through the lens of race, gender, and history. Examining the formation of racial stereotypes and confronting the persistence of racism in American history. It features more than 100 cloth dolls, alongside dozens of historical photographs of white and Black children posed with their playthings and caregivers. A coda explores 20th-century commercial dolls marketed to a broader audience of Black families seeking to instill pride in their children. Through these humble yet potent objects, Black Dolls reveals difficult truths about American history and invites visitors to engage in the urgent national conversation around the legacy of slavery and race.

Item Number: 21685