Drawing from History

Posted on June 27th, 2012 by

A blog post by Education Intern Lisa Perrin.

Paper dolls are very dear to my heart. I collected them obsessively as a child and fretted endlessly about whether or not to cut them out. I loved the costumes and the potential for storytelling in each paper doll book. And I did not realize it at the time, but I was learning. Paper dolls shaped my sense of history. When I think of the Civil War era I envision hoop skirts and mutton chops. I can picture the straight silhouettes of the 1920s and the flared, tailored dresses of the 1950s. Knowing about the styles of those eras has helped me better understand them in a grander sense.

An example of a paper doll I was commissioned to make for the Mutter Museum gift store in Philadelphia, PA of Dr. Mutter, for whom the museum is named.

It will come as no surprise that I began to make my own paper dolls inspired by history and literature. I also sold them through an online Etsy shop and discovered that many people feel a special connection to this simple toy. During my education department internship interview with the Jewish Museum of Maryland I mentioned my passion for making paper dolls. I was met with a great sense of enthusiasm and an idea for a project. I was asked to create a series of paper dolls representing famous Maryland Jews to be used as learning tools. I am very excited because I know of very few paper dolls depicting Jewish people.

A working sketch of my first paper doll: Mendes Cohen, a Jewish man who served in the war of 1812.

My hope is to make paper dolls that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds as a unique and fun way to educate them about the history of the Jewish people in this state.

Stay tuned for updated posted on my progress!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland