Friday, May 30, 2008
Pomona Public Library's Doll Collection
Good afternoon young Pomonans. This post is dedicated to our doll collection. We have so many cool secrets here at the Pomona Public Library. One is that we house the Goddess of Pomona. We also house the original hand written manuscript of "Little Town on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Another would be that we house a very large doll collection.
The Pomona Public Library's doll collection numbers over 800 dolls. The collection is a varied one with dolls representing all corners of the globe and many historical periods. Some of the dolls are over 200 years old.
The first 85 dolls were collected and donated to the Library by Miss Clara J. Webber, the Children's Librarian at the Pomona Public Library from 1948-1970. Some of her dolls depict historical characters, such as Queen Victoria, Buffalo Bill, Thomas Edison and Winston Churchill. Some depict literary characters, such as Hitty, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and the March sisters from "Little Women."
Of special note are Miss Webber's character dolls of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books. One set of dolls representing the Ingalls family as hand carved by Minnesota artist Harvey Hultquist. The other set, created in the 1950's by Pomona doll maker B. Brooks, is based on the books' original illustrations by Helen Sewell. Miss Webber had Mrs. Brooks make a second identical set as a gift to Mrs. Wilder.
The doll collection increased dramatically in size in 1963 when Mrs. Sarah Lorena McArthur, a resident of Pomona since 1892, passed away and willed her collection of over 600 dolls to the Library. Mrs. McArthur's husband, John A. McArthur, had been a Civil War Veteran, fighting in the Union Army under General Sherman. He ran a popular barber shop in Pomona. When he retired in 1920, his faithful customers would line up at his house for haircuts and shaves. He eventually opened up a barber shop in the barn behind his house with Mrs. McArthur as his assistant. After his death in 1924, she continued to run the show until she was 87 years old. She is reputed to hold the record for being the country's oldest woman barber.
Mrs. McArthur began collecting dolls with her daughter Pearl Lorena McArthur in the 1930's The dolls are made of a variety of materials, including china, wood, metal, cloth, apples and hickory nuts. They especially enjoyed collecting dolls from other countries. The dolls include historical figures, including George and Martha Washington. Mrs. McArthur made clothes and repaired many of the dolls herself. Every doll in the collection was given a name.
The Pomona Public Library intended to put the dolls on public display when the new Library building was completed in 1965, but adequate dispay space to house most of the dolls was not available for many years. In 1999 the Friends of the Pomona Public Library purchased display cases for the dolls, with the help of a grant from Wal-Mart.
The doll cases have a lively mix of dolls. General Douglas MacArthur and William Shakespeare share space with Mary Poppins and Doctor Dolittle. An Eskimo boy shares space with a Japaneses geisha. An original Kewpie smiles down on an antique bisque baby doll. Work continues on the identification and labeling of the dolls. The Pomona Public Library is proud of its unique collection of dolls and is pleased to have them on display for the community to enjoy.
So if you haven't seen them or paid any attention to them, come on in and appreciate the beauty and the history of them.