WPA Doll Collection

The Horton Public Library has a treasure sitting above the book shelves in their small library – it is a collection of 24 pairs of WPA dolls, representing 24 foreign countries.  These depression-age dolls were created under the Work Projects Administration, formed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 to “make” work for the nation’s large number of unemployed Americans.  Usually the work created was in the construction field, such as roads, bridges, parks and buildings; but there was also a Fine Arts group consisting of artists and artisans who painted murals and crafted these unique dolls.   The dolls are handmade by artisans and seamstresses and were meant to be used as visual aids in the schools.  They are dressed in detailed costumes to help give students an understanding of historic dress not only of foreign countries, but also of American historical figures from the 1600s to the 1800s.   These dolls were housed for years in the display case at the Library and at times loaned out for display, once to the St. Joseph Doll Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri in 1989.  In 1999 it was decided by the Library Board and the Library Director that the dolls needed to be preserved and permanently displayed at the Library.  An Adoption project was launched and the following dolls were given homes in glass cases made by a local cabinetmaker:

  • Austria – adopted by Katherine Holden
  • China – adopted by Mildred Barnes & JoAnn Jenkins
  • Czechoslovakia – adopted in memory of Edna Belle Banning Ohlsen
  • Denmark – adopted by Homer & Juanita Pederson
  • England, Old – adopted by Clay & Laura Cowart
  • Finland – adopted by Jim, Lois, Kent and Van Larson
  • French Peasant – adopted by Don & Greg Kallos in honor of Horton Teachers
  • German Peasant – adopted by Kevin & Mindy Shippy-Tilley
  • Greece – adopted by Bill & Nancy Goins in memory of the James Kallos family
  • Holland – adopted by Harold Eugene Kurtz
  • Hungary – adopted by the Delphian Club
  • India – adopted by the Delphian Club
  • Ireland – adopted in memory of Robert Poston
  • Italy – adopted in memory of Elizabeth Wilson
  • Jugoslavia – adopted in memory of Carel Pults
  • Mexico – adopted by AAUW
  • Norway – adopted by Claire & Carolyn Olsen
  • Poland – adopted by Kenneth & Veda Knudson
  • Rumania – adopted by Claire Olsen grandchildren
  • Scotland – adopted by John & Nancy McClain
  • Spain – adopted in memory of Mary Margaret Kurtz
  • Sweden – adopted by Ken & Connie Shippy
  • Switzerland – adopted by the Friends of the Library