Annie Davis Frierson

Name:  Annie Davis Frierson

Made by and When:  I. Roberta Bell of Bertabel’s Dolls, 1975

Material:  Porcelain or clay-baked face and hands; straw-stuffed tan silk body, arms, and legs

Marks: Annie D. Frierson / IRB. / 1975

A descriptive hangtag reads:

(Hangtag outside) ANNIE DAVIS FRIERSON / 1859    1939 / About seven when slavery was over, she had no last name and knew nothing of her parents. She was adopted, reared, and schooled by a family named Davis, graduating from what later became “Fisk University” in Nashville, Tennessee. She married a school mate, the Rev. Robert Frierson, bore twelve children, one of whom was the mother of I. Roberta Bell, and taught in a rural school in Tennessee. (Hangtag inside) Bertabel’s Dolls / BY / I. ROBERTA BELL/ ARTIST MEMBER / NATIONAL INSTITUTE / OF AMERICAN DOLL ARTISTS

Height: 16 inches

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: Gray hair, made of mohair, is styled in a low bun in the back. Has painted facial features with brown eyes and a closed mouth that is painted dark red.

Clothes: The full-length black taffeta dress has a white-eyelet-trimmed collar accessorized with a cameo. A white eyelet-trimmed half-slip, white full-length eyelet-trimmed pantalettes, black stockings, and white faux-suede lace-up ankle boots complete the costume.

Other: I. Roberta Bell (a.k.a. Ida Roberta Bell) made a series of dolls to represent African American historical figures. The historical doll series was displayed in several museums across the United States. Many are now owned by doll enthusiasts. As indicated on the hangtag, this doll represents the artist’s grandmother, Annie Davis Frierson. It was not part of her historical doll series and quite possibly is a one-of-a-kind tribute to Bell’s grandmother. I. Roberta Bell was the first African American member of the National Institute of Doll Artists.



-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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