Doll Couture

Hello! My name is Zachary Rousseas and I am returning for my third semester of interning here at Historic Huguenot Street. I am a double major in History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies at SUNY New Paltz. This is my first object of the week, enjoy!

This week’s object is a Milliner’s model doll dating to around the 1840’s. This specific doll belonged to Elizabeth Traphagen, whose sister married into the Hasbrouck Family. The doll was modeled after a white woman with styled long black hair. It was constructed out of painted wood, paper-mache, a leather body, and has facial features painted on. Additionally, it is dressed with a blue velvet bodice, light pink puff sleeves, a skirt with netting, and painted yellow shoes.


Milliner is a name given to the dolls because of the words connection to hat and fashion. Milliner’s model dolls were given their name by avid doll collectors in the twentieth century, but their roots are not contemporary. They originate from early nineteenth century Germany, and reached their height of popularity in the mid nineteenth century.1 Many historians propose the theory that these dolls were adorned with the latest fashions of the time because their intended purpose was not for playing, but to show the newest women’s fashion. However, this is not the historical consensus. There is disagreement because the size of the doll made it hard to accurately represent style and fashion of real women. While these dolls original purposes did not allow any rough-housing, these dolls did get to face the wrath of children. Often, after the trendiness of their clothing expired, the dolls were recycled into nurseries as play dolls.


“Origin of the Term “Milliner’s Model Doll”…What’s in a Name?” Dolls From the Attic. Blogspot, 17 Apr. 2010. Web. 02 Sept. 2014.

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