‘Dolls of the 1950s’ at 1950s Park Forest House Museum

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Dolls of the 1950s are currently on display at the Park Forest House Museum. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The 1950s Park Forest House Museum at 141 Forest Blvd always displays children’s books, toys and dolls of the 1950s, includingtoys boys loved. But this spring, a very special exhibit, featuring a number of the 1950s favorite dolls, is on display. The society encourages people to bring through children, grandchildren, friends, sisters, mothers, cousins, and anyone who loves toys and dolls. The museum is open Saturdays from 1-3 p.m. Donations of $5 are asked of adults; children 12 and under are free with paying adults. The museum can be opened by appointment for large or small groups. Directions and more information on the museum and the Park Forest Historical Society can be found at www.parkforesthistory.org.

The exhibit features the dolls, some of their clothes and accessories, and advertisements and articles about them. Some reference books, such as Small Dolls of the 40s and 50s, are available to look through during your visit. Dolls have been loaned, and the society has received donations of dolls and clothing. None of the dolls in the exhibit are “perfect” or in “mint” condition; they are all well-loved examples of the dolls so many little girls played with by the hour. Some of the dolls included are Ginny, Ginger, Muffie, and 8″ hard plastic dolls from a variety of companies. There is also a fairly inclusive collection of 8″ babydolls like Ginnette, Baby Susan, Baby Ginger and their competitors. Toni and Mary Hoyer, both originally made by Ideal, sit side by side. Patti Play Pal greets visitors in the living room. Tiny Tears and DyDee Baby from the early 1950s sit in high chairs in the dining room. Doll clothes patterns sit by the sewing machine.

Barbie by Mattel is in the news, celebrating her 50th Anniversary. The exhibit has some early Barbies with outfits from 1959, and a book on Barbie through the years can be picked up and read.

Dollikins, in her “Lotus” costume, and a 14R, 19 inch fashion doll are on the second floor, along with Mr. Bim (a Zippy the chimp competitor), and two AG and American Eastern 14 ” babydolls. Downstairs are two 20 inch vinyl baby dolls, one in the tin doll-size stroller and one in the large baby buggy.

Lulubelle, an African American toddler doll from a Canadian company is on display, along with a black Playmate doll by Virga. A book on collecting African American dolls is available so visitors can see photos of many more dolls than the society could find to put in the display.

Illustrations from doll booklets and advertisements are found throughout the house.

In addition to the doll exhibit, during March and April the museum is decorated for a 1950s Easter. Visitors can see a pink metal egg tree full of hand-blown, hand-painted eggs brought back from Japan by a WWII veteran, and colorful Easter die cut decorations, along with baskets suitable to the period.

The 1950s Park Forest House Museum is in an original rental townhome furnished as it might have been from 1948-1953. Park Forest is the first fully-planned, post-World War II suburb, and was planned as a GI Town to give preference to returning veterans and their families. The museum tour tells the story of how this planned town came to be. Photographs of the village under construction and of the life of the early residents are on display. Visitors can also drive through Park Forest’s Downtown to see what remains of the first or second shopping center in the country, and can stop by the Wetland Reclamation Project within blocks of the museum.

The society invites people to come see the “Dolls of the 1950s” exhibit. The museum depends on donations to remain open. This is a rare opportunity to see so many of these dolls in one location. The society is also always looking for new volunteers who would enjoy sharing the museum with visitors. Contact director, Jane Nicoll at 708-481-4252, if you would like to join our band of volunteers.