Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Helen Popenoe Paper Doll Collection, 1942-1947


Collection ID:
Popenoe, Helen
Physical Description:
0.5 Cubic feet
2 boxes
In the 1940s, during Helen Popenoe's elementary school years, she collected and played with paper dolls. This collection consists of the dolls that she enjoyed as a child.

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents
The collection consists of paper dolls of various types including female movie stars, "Blondie," comic strip characters, and several "Good Neighbor" dolls inspired by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy. Additionally there are paper dolls of young children and toddlers, as well as fictitious characters with clothes and accessories that represent the time period in American history in which they were produced. For example, several paper dolls have World War II military uniforms.


The collection is arranged into six series and is organized by type of doll.
Series 1: "Blondie" Characters, undated
Series 2: Celebrities, undated
Series 3: Couples, undated
Series 4: Good Neighbor, undated
Series 5: Queens, undated
Series 6: Miscellaneous, undated

Biographical / Historical

Biographical / Historical
This collection is comprised of Helen Popenoe's personal paper doll collection from her elementary school days, ages 5-10. The collection dates from 1942 to 1947. It is possible that some of these dolls were purchased at Kann's Department Store in Washington, D.C. Many of the paper dolls were discovered in a Kann's shopping bag.


Hannah Rosen (intern); supervised by Alison Oswald, archivist
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection was donated to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, by Helen Popenoe in June, 2009.
Processing Information
Processed by Hannah Rosen (intern), July, 2009 and Marisa Kritikson (intern), July, 2010; supervised by Alison Oswald, 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 but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at or 202-633-3270.
Preferred Citation
Helen Popenoe Paper Doll Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
Carolyn and Donald Grepke Paper Doll Collection, 1895-1991 (AC 0752)
Elinor S. Miller Paper Doll Collection, circa 1909-1940 (AC1110).


Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Dolls Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Paper dolls Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Toys -- 20th century Topical Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012