Saralee Negro Doll

Name: Saralee Negro Doll

Made by and When: Ideal Toy Corporation, 1951

Material: Vinyl with brown cloth body

Marks: Ideal Dolls (on head)

Height: 17 inches

Hair/Eyes/Mouth: Sculpted black curls, brown sleep eyes with eyelashes/open-closed mouth with a molded tongue

Clothes: Light blue organdy Ideal-tagged dress, white socks, off-white shoes, replaced blue bonnet; the doll was also dressed in yellow or white dresses with matching bonnets.

Other: On the market from 1951-1953, marketed as the first anthropologically-correct Black doll in the United States, Saralee Negro Doll (note that Saralee is correctly spelled as one word) was created by Sara Lee Creech. Creech felt Black children should have Black dolls with features like their own. Saralee was promoted by several dignitaries and approved by members of the NAACP. Eleanor Roosevelt, Zora Neal Hurston, Ralph Bunche, and Leontyne Price were among the luminaries who were photographed with the doll and otherwise helped promote it. (See some of their pictures in Slideshow #1 below.)

Slideshow #1 Doll articles, supporting luminaries, and a Jet magazine ad (click or tap the arrows to advance the slideshow.)

Slideshow #1 References and Photo Credits:

  • “Doll for Negro Children.” December 17, 1951. Life magazine.
  • Leontyne Price holding Saralee. December 11, 1951. Library of Congress
  • Eleanor Roosevelt and others examining doll heads. December 17, 1951. Life magazine.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt and John Golden examining Saralee doll-family heads. December 17, 1951. Life magazine.
  • Saralee doll ad, King Industries, December 6, 1951. Jet magazine.

Slideshow #2 – Two Additional Saralee doll ads (full and cropped images)— use the right arrow to advance the slideshow.

Slideshow #2 Photo Credits:

  • Ideal’s Sara Lee Colored Doll ad from the Dawn Spears Black Legacy Images Collection (full and cropped photos)
  • Sears Catalog Sara Lee Colored Doll ad from the Dawn Spears Black Legacy Images Collection (full and cropped photos)
Closeup of Saralee

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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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