image preview


Topsy-Turvy Hand-Made Doll. Series X. Box 10

7” high and 6” wide


United States of America


This hand-made, cloth, Topsy-Turvy doll was created in the 1950’s during a time of segregation. Topsy-Turvy dolls, are dolls that share the same body but have different faces. The dolls were sewn by African-American women who were employed as Domestic Workers in White European-American households. One face of the doll was a White European-American child and the other face of the doll was an African-American child. The child would choose the face of the doll based upon the race of the people that the child was playing around. If the audience was the family and the guest of the household the child’s parent was working for, the doll’s face was White European-American. If the child was playing by themselves or around their family, then the doll’s face was African-American. These dolls were first created in the 1850’s during the time of slavery, but they continued to be made for the segregated south up until the 1960’s. This doll has a black face made with black cloth and a white face made of white cloth. The doll faces share a red dress. The doll with the black face has bright red lips and a bright head hair wrap. This image suggest that the child may be expected to grow up and become a “Mammy” figure, as the doll shares the characteristics of the stereotypical “Mammy”, which are; dark skin, full red lips, bulging eyes, and wearing flowing clothes creating a full body frame. Finally, she wears a head scarf on her head.


Collectibles, Africa, African-American, Culture, Race, History