Mary McLeod Bethune

Name: Mary McLeod Bethune

Made by and When: I. Roberta Bell (Bertabel Dolls), 1969

Material: Porcelain head and hands with tan cloth, sawdust-filled body, arms, legs and feet

Marks: Mary McLeod Bethune / ”Berta Bell” / ©1969 (incised by the artist on the back of the shoulder plate)

Height: 17 inches

Hair/Eyes/Mouth: Gray wig fashioned into a bun/brown painted eyes/closed, downturned mouth

Clothes:  Dressed in a two-piece heather gray flannel skirt suit, dark pink crepe blouse with lace embellishment, straw hat with a green grosgrain ribbon band, tan taffeta undergarments, tan knee-high stockings, and black vinyl shoes.  Pinned to the lapel of her coat is a lavender artificial flower. 

Other: Portrait doll of Mary McLeod Bethune, part of I. Roberta Bell’s Famous Black Americans series, aka African American Heritage Dolls, is the 2nd doll in the series. Several sets of 26 “Famous Black American” dolls were made and displayed in several museums throughout the United States.

“I plunged into the job of creating something from nothing…. Though I hadn’t a penny left, I considered cash money as the smallest part of my resources. I had faith in a living God, faith in myself, and a desire to serve.”

—Mary McLeod Bethune



-See other Bertabel’s Dolls in the museum here.

-Visit the Bertabel’s Dolls by I. Roberta Bell Pinterest board here.

-Read more about the artist and her work in a three-part series that begins here.


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Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

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