Shirley Temple and Toys

Hearing about the demise of Shirley Temple this week was sad. She certainly had had a full and eventful life.

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I was in Boston for a fortnight six years ago and one of the highlights of my stay was visiting The Boston Children’s Museum. I am grateful to my old friend  Prof. Edgar Klugman for taking me there and introducing me to the staff.  His former student , Jeri Robinson,   gave generously of her time and expertise as she walked us around. The original Shirley Temple dolls are housed in the museum but were not on display at that time which was a disappointment for me as I had hoped to see them.  These dolls were used to produce a Dover paper doll publication that gives a social and fashion statement of the 1930’s as well as being dolls with which children may play.  I bought a copy many years ago. It was expensive, not in the tradition of paper dolls being cheap for poor children but part of the trend in expensive reproductions for collectors and scholars. It is an enjoyable book and amusingly includes toys and playthings of the period reminding me of the great classical portraits of children where the artist has unobtrusively included a scattering of toys and pets.                                                                                     Image                                                          

Shirley Temple dolls were still manufactured, decades after her career ended, and have long been sought by collectors. I have not seen any modern ones on sale but would not be surprised to find out that they are out there waiting to be bought.  Her face appeared on clothing, cereal boxes, playing cards, soap and hundreds of other items that are now  traded as memorabilia.. I have seen a non-alcoholic, cherry-garnished drink named in her honour on menus and guess it was originally intended for children.

As a young adult, she persuaded the Ideal Toy Co. to manufacture a new version of the 1930s Shirley Temple doll. She made personal appearances at stores that attracted thousands of fans  and in six months the company sold more than 300,000 dolls.

I downloaded the following information about the two people I mentioned. 

Edgar Klugman, Ed.D. is a Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education and Care at Wheelock College in Boston, MA, one of the nation’s premier training institutions for early childhood and elementary educators. A policy development specialist, Professor Klugman is a charter member of the Play, Policy, and Practice Interest Forum within the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In addition, he has served in national, regional, and local roles and as a member of the NAEYC Governing Board. Professor Klugman is a co-founder and vice president of Playing for Keeps, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving outcomes and quality of life for all children through increasing their access to healthy, constructive, developmental play. In that role, he has developed or collaborated on several national conferences on play, and is leading efforts to document the knowledge base about play. Professor Klugman is the author or editor of several influential publications about early childhood and play, including Children’s Play and Learning: Perspectives and Policy Implications (with Sara Smilansky, published in 1990) and Play, Policy & Practice (1995). He is a frequent contributor of articles on play to Child Care Information Exchange. He has been a member of the Early Childhood Advisory Council to the Commissioner of Education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, helping to craft successful policies to form community collaboration on behalf of children and families. Professor Klugman has also appeared as an expert witness on child and family issues before state legislatures.

Jeri Robinson is Vice President, Education & Family Learning at the Boston Children’s Museum which she joined in 1973. Ms. Robinson has over 35 years of experience in teaching and consulting in the field of early childhood education.She is the developer of the PlaySpace exhibit, (one of the earliest prototypes for early learning family spaces in children’s and other museums), founder of the Boston Cultural Collaborative for Early Learning and co-founder of both Families First Parenting programs and “CountDown to Kindergarten”. For many years, she has provided early childhood training and consultation to museums and other organizations. Robinson received her B.S., M.S. Ed. and an honorary Doctorate in Education from Wheelock College. She serves on numerous boards dealing with family, community, multicultural, and early childhood education issues. In recognition of her work, Robinson has received awards such as the Wheelock Centennial Award, the Boston Parents Paper Family Advocate Award, the Women Who Care Award, and the Lucy Wheelock Award. She was a 2004 participant in the Schott Fellowship in Early Care and Education (Public Policy), a program of the Schott Center for Public and Early Education, Cambridge MA. In 2005, she was named to the American Association of Museums, Centennial Honor Roll, in recognition of her contributions to the museum field in the past century

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