Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Carolyn and Donald Grepke Paper Doll Collection

Collection ID:
Grepke, Donald, 1932-
Grepke, Carolyn, 1937-1995
circa 1800s-1998, undated
Physical Description:
70 Cubic feet
Abstract: Collection consists of over a century of paper dolls documenting their use as advertisements, and depictions of popular culture, fashion trends, family lifestyles, gender roles, ideal communities,and cultural heroes.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
Collection consists of paper dolls dating from the 1800s-1998. The bulk of the paper dolls, however, date from the 1900s-1970s. Due to the Grepkes' careful selection, the paper dolls are in excellent condition, most were never used or played with. In addition, most of the sets are complete, with few or no missing pieces. A sustainable amount of the collection remains in original packaging which often included the periodical or comic book in which it was published, the original box, or a folder or booklet. A substantial amount of these paper dolls was commercially produced with examples of hand-made dolls and clothing. Clothing for the dolls is mostly created from paper with examples of cloth, wood, and plastic. Hand colored commercially produced dolls and clothing also exist within the collection. Special features on the dolls could include hair, plastic eyes, photographic faces, and moveable parts.
The artwork aspect of the collection provides potential research use with illustrations by such paper doll artists as Queen Holden, who was renowned for her dolls of the 1930s, and Tom Tierney, who has depicted almost every celebrity of the 20th century in paper doll form. Originals and reproductions of Grace Gebbie Drayton's (1877-1936) Dolly Dingle paper dolls series, which appeared in the Pictorial Review from 1913-1933, are included among the materials. Drayton is well known for her creation and illustration of the "Campbell Kids." She illustrated books and other publications and designed dolls and toys. Frances Tipton Hunter, creator of the "Little Busy Bodies" who appeared in Women's Home Companion in 1922 and 1923, career spanned from the 1920s to her death in 1957. Besides the "Little Busy Bodies" her work also appeared in periodicals including the Saturday Evening Post, The Delineator, Collier's, and Ladies Home Journal.
Not just seen from the perspective of artwork or playthings the serious scholar will be able to focus on a variety of topics related to the dolls. Researchers interested in fashion, popular culture, and images of women, children, or celebrities will find this collection of great value. The collection has a large representation of movie and television stars from the 1930s through the 1950s. In addition, American notions of ideal family sizes, settings, relationships, teenage life, and leisure activities are represented in the collection. Dates of the paper dolls are most often time of publication rather than era they represent.

The collection is arranged in 14 series.
Series 1, Advertisements, circa 1800-1980, undated
Series 2, Animals, circa 1950-1995, undated
Series 3, Celebrities, circa 1930-1995, undated
Subseries 3.1, Film, circa 1930-1995, undated
Subseries 3.2, Music, circa 1950-1995, undated
Subseries 3.3, Pop Culture, circa 1950-1995, undated
Subseries 3.4, Royalty, circa 1950-1995, undated
Subseries 3.5, Stage and Theater, circa 1930-1950, undated
Subseries 3.6, Television, circa 1950-1995, undated
Series 4, Literature, circa 1920-1995, undated
Series 5, Mass Media, circa 1935-1995, undated
Subseries 5.1, Cartoons, circa 1960-1995, undated
Subseries 5.2, Comic Books, circa 1940-1995, undated
Subseries 5.3, Motion Picture Film, circa 1935-1995, undated
Subseries 5.4, Newspapers, circa 1934-1951, undated
Subseries 5.5, Radio, circa 1940-1955, undated
Subseries 5.6, Television, circa 1950-1995, undated
Series 6, Toys, circa 1890-1990, undated
Subseries 6.1, Paper Dolls, circa 1890-1980, undated
Subseries 6.2, Three Dimensional Dolls as Paper Toys, circa 1910-1990, undated
Series 7, Family, circa 1880-1990, undated
Subseries 7.1, Children, circa 1880-1980, undated
Subseries 7.2, Infants, circa 1920-1970, undated
Subseries 7.3, Family, circa 1930-1950, undated
Subseries 7.4, Teenagers, circa 1910-1990, undated
Series 8, Clothing and Fashion, circa 1890-1995, undated
Subseries 8.1, Bridal, circa 1900-1990, undated
Subseries 8.2, Clothing of the World, circa 1900-1995, undated
Subseries 8.3, Designers, circa 1950-1980, undated
Subseries 8.4, Eras and Historic, circa 1890-1995, undated
Subseries 8.5, Military, circa 1940-1950, undated
Series 9, Historical Figures and Events, circa 1950-1998, undated
Subseries 9.1, African American, circa 1990-1995, undated
Subseries 9.2, Military, circa 1970-1990, undated
Subseries 9.3, Religion, circa 1984-1998, undated
Subseries 9.4, United States Presidents, circa 1970-1995, undated
Subseries 9.5, United States History, circa 1950-1990, undated
Subseries 9.6, Women, circa 1910-1995, undated
Subseries 9.7, World Leaders, circa 1980-1990, undated
Series 10, Holidays and Celebrations, circa 1930-1990, undated
Series 11, Occupations, circa 1900-1995, undated
Series 12, Periodicals, circa 1890-1995
Subseries 12.1, Characters, circa 1900-1995
Subseries 12.2, Periodicals, circa 1890-1995
Series 13, Miscellaneous Materials, circa 1890-1995, undated
Series 14, Publications, 1978-1993
Subseries 14.1, Articles, circa 1980-1990
Subseries 14.2, Books, 1978-1993

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Donald Eugene Grepke (September 18, 1932- April 15, 2005) and Carolyn Joan Moyer Grepke (December 10, 1937- December 19, 1995) began collecting paper dolls in the 1970s in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Donald was born and raised in Fort Wayne where he attended Elmhurst High School, worked at a grocery store filling station, and graduated in 1951. In 1955, he began working at Zollner Corporation, manufacturers of pistons for cars and trucks, and retired on disability in 1989.
Carolyn Joan Moyer was born in Pennville, Indiana. Carolyn's family moved to Fort Wayne when she was four years old and after a few years they moved to Churubusco, Indiana. They returned to Fort Wayne where Carolyn attended North Side High School and graduated in 1956. Carolyn began working at Lincoln National Life Insurance Company after high school and continued to work there until she passed away.
Donald Grepke and Carolyn Moyer married at Trinity United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana on March 2, 1957. One child, Randell Lee Grepke, was born to the union on May 5, 1958.
One of Carolyn's favorite toys as a child was paper dolls. One day while reading a publication about antiques, Donald saw an advertisement for an auction which included paper dolls in excellent condition. This began their paper doll collection. Over the next - 20-25 years, while on vacations and weekend drives, they would stop at antique shops, flea markets, and auctions in search of paper dolls. When Carolyn worked on weekends, Don would venture out by himself or with a male friend in search of paper dolls. Their collection grew to over 4,000 paper dolls.
After Carolyn passed in 1995, Don lost interest in collecting paper dolls. He pondered for about three years on what to do with the collection. He decided to donate the collection to the Smithsonian Institution in memory of his wife, where the materials would be available to the public for research and exhibition purposes.

Vanessa Broussard-Simmons and Craig Orr
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, by Donald Grepke in memory of his wife Carolyn Grepke in December 2000.
Processing Information
Collection processed by Sarah Allan, volunteer, 2002; Ann Jones, volunteer, 2002; Sarah Knox, intern, 2002; Jenny Selby, intern, 2002; Leslie Shope, intern, 2002; supervised by Vanessa Broussard- Simmons, Archivist.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation
The Carolyn and Donald Grepke Paper Doll Collection, 1800s-1998, undated, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

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Division of Cultural and Community Life, National Museum of American History
Division holds a collection of paper dolls.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Paper dolls Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dolls Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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