One of my favorite dolls is Raggedy Ann. I've always loved her since I was a little girl. One of her best attributes is that she is a rag doll. What a disparaging term, rag! I prefer cloth myself. By their very nature, rag, that is, cloth dolls are soft. Dolls should be soft so that their owners can hug them close.
Sure, they aren't elegant like their China doll cousins, but who wants to hug up a hard piece of glass? Not me! Give me a soft Raggedy any day over that cold breakable painted beauty.
In addition, Raggedy Ann is so friendly. She has a happy expression, a cute smile, red triangle nose, and black button eyes. A red yarn mop of hair tops her head.
No party dress or ball gown for Raggedy Ann! She's ready for playtime with her colorful cotton blue dress dotted with red and white flowers, topped with a crisp white apron. Red and white striped stockings and black shoes complete the look.
Need more proof of Raggedy's Ann loving nature? Peak under her dress and you'll find that embroidered on her fabric chest is a red heart with the words, "I love you." Right back atcha, Raggedy Ann!
Raggedy Ann History
Raggedy Ann began as the character in a series of children's books by Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938), who wrote the stories for his daughter, Marcella. When Marcella presented her father with a rag doll, Gruelle drew a face on it and came up with the name "Raggedy Ann" from a combination of two books on his bookshelf, "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphan Annie."
Sadly, Marcella died at age 13 after a smallpox vaccine at school that her parents had not agreed to. Gruelle thereafter became a staunch opponent of vaccinations and Raggedy Ann was used as a symbol of that movement.
The doll was produced in 1915 and marketed to the public along with a book, Raggedy Ann Stories, in 1918. It was well received and a baby brother, Raggedy Andy, was born in 1920, to keep Raggedy Ann company. Andy sports a perky sailor suit and hat.
The Raggedy Ann brand has floundered in legal limbo since Gruelle's death. Many consider Raggedy Ann to be public domain and they have used the doll's likeness for books, animated films, sewing patterns, Christmas decorations and fabric, to name but a few.
Raggedy Ann Dolls
Raggedy Ann dolls are available in a number of sizes from small to quite large, but the favorite is the standard 18-inch height that small children can easily hug. Manufacturers include Russ Berrie and Madame Alexander Dolls. The dolls remain true to the original, but a holiday version gives Ann a red dress with an embroidered candy cane on the front.
I have a traditional sized Raggedy Ann myself. When shopping at a Goodwill store, I discovered a large Raggedy Andy. I couldn't believe it! Who would give away a Raggedy Andy! And it was in perfect condition, too! He now lives at my house with his sister.
Raggedy Ann Books
Raggedy Ann has been featured in 26 books by Johnny Gruelle, and many more by an assortment of other authors. The books are readily available online at Amazon.com and book stores everywhere. As well as having a sweet story, Raggedy Ann books are lovingly and gently illustrated with vibrant colors.
Raggedy Ann and her brother, Andy starred in a TV cartoon show from 1988 to 1990, and lots of videos are available to watch her adventures.
She's My Doll
Raggedy Ann is an American institution, a throw back to a simpler time, but still loved by children today for her sweet nature. Take a hike, Barbie and Sponge Bob Square Pants! Raggedy Ann is my living doll!