Thursday 28 July 2016

The George W. Cooper Doll Collection - USA

Imagine our delight when we discovered that the Central Library of Rochester which was a very short walk down the road from the hotel we were staying in at the Sasha Festival had a wonderful collection of over 200 dolls tucked away in their 'Secret Room' in the Children's part of the library.

The George W. Cooper Collection is named in honour of a local elementary school principal who organised the collection.  The students and teachers in 1935 wrote to the then existing 69 countries of the world and founded an exchange of dolls.  The students sent each country a Shirley Temple doll from the United States in exchange for a doll dressed in the traditional clothing of that country.
In 1940 the students of this school presented the collection of approximately 170 dolls to the Rochester Public Library.  The total number in the collection today is over 200 thanks to the gifts from individual donors.  These are from countries that have since achieved independence.

What an amazing teacher Mr Cooper must have been to have seen the potential of this project in helping the children to appreciate and understand different cultures.  To enable the children and teachers to raise money to purchase the Shirley Temple dolls to send to these countries, they sold salt.  Each time a new doll arrived the whole school would be called together in an assembly to see the new doll or crate of dolls that arrived.  How exciting that must have been.

Peggy Sue and I were enthralled and excited to see so many different dolls representing their different National costumes.

Peggy Sue was a little bit bothered by them all being behind glass, but I reassure her it was for their own protection.

I told her that unfortunately there are people who might want to hurt or kidnap the dolls so they need to be kept safe.

She still felt a little sad about them not being able to get out

But I told her that probably when the library is closed and all is safe, they probably venture out then to play and chat to each other.

She was a bit puzzled at how they might do that as they were all from different countries, but I told her that probably over the years they have learnt to understand each other...after all most have been together for a long time now.

We continue to look round this amazing collection.

What an amazing collection of dolls to represent different countries and cultures of the World.  We feel so very lucky that we were able to visit this collection and enjoyed it very much.


  1. Thank you soooo much for taking and sharing these pictures. As many times as I have been in Rochester, I have never heard of this collection.What a wonderful collection!

  2. How wonderful these are! Thanks so much for showing them to us. - Jocelyn