Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Iconic Dolls

 Raggedy Ann and Andy: Beloved Ragdolls

by Martha Rogers  

The original concept of Raggedy Ann as drawn by Gruelle, her creator.

How well I remember these dolls from my childhood. I always wanted one, but never had the privilege of having one. I did have several story books and a coloring book featuring the two dolls and many of their friends from the books.

The exact origin of the idea for the doll is not known but legends and myths abound about a rag doll found in the attic and brought down to be fixed up. Legend has it that he designed and named his creation for his daughter Marcella who died at age thirteen from an infection following a vaccination. 

What we do know: Raggedy Ann was first created by Johnny Gruelle, and American writer born in 1880. He wrote and illustrated a series featuring the rag doll with red yarn hair and a triangle nose. In September of 1915, he received the patent for the doll which he had created and then introduced to the public in a book Raggedy Ann Stories. That was around the time of his daughter's death. He marketed the books with the doll, and the concept met with great success.

Then, in 1920 Gruelle introduced the character of her brother, Raggedy Andy. Gruelle adopted the names from two poems by his friend, James Whitcomb Riley, The Raggedy Man and Little Orphant Annie. Gruelle later introduced Beloved Belinda, a black mammy doll, in the book and as a doll. One interesting note, Riley was a friend and neighbor of Gruelle when they both lived in Indianapolis.

As can be seen above in  drawing from a coloring book, the drawings progressed to the dolls who are more recognizable as the Raggedy and Raggedy Andy most of us remember. Gruelle continued to write and illustrate at least one book a year until his death in 1938. He also wrote lyrics for songs that were published both as sheet music and song books for children. Included was "Raggedy Ann's Sunny Songs" in 1930. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary William H. Woodin set the words to music. 

By the end of the 1940's, Raggedy Ann books and those related to her exceeded 7 million copies. Bobbs-Merrill Company in Indianapolis became the authorized

publisher of the books and licensor for Raggedy Ann related literary works in 1962. These are pictures of some of the earlier books.

The Knickerbocker Toy Company took over manufacturing the dolls in the early 1960s. Bobbs -Merrill then became a part of Macmillan Inc. and later Simon & Schuster, and Hasbro acquired the rights to the trademark for the Raggedy Ann stuffed doll, but Simon $ Schuster retained the rights to all other trademarks. While in the process of of being sold to Penguin Random House, the original patent and copyrights expired and are in the public domain.

Because of the expiration, pattern companies came out with patterns for the dolls, Many variations of the dolls were manufactured. In addition to dolls and books, such items as comic books, animated items, television and theatrical productions, coloring books, and recordings of the songs were manufactured.

Below are examples of some of the items we all would recognize as Ann and Andy in paper dolls, a more modern version of Raggedy Ann, a pattern for the doll as well as costumes for plays, masquerades and Halloween.

The dolls and all memorabilia associated with them have become sought-after items for collectors. On March 27, 2002, the Raggedy Ann doll was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York. Five years later, Raggedy Andy joined her on November 8, 2007.

These dolls are recognizable even today. When our first granddaughter was born, I bought Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy soft doll Christmas ornaments around 41/2 inches tall and still use them over 35 years later. 

What toys from your childhood were your favorites?

My release for Christmas:

Kayla Martin’s fiancé was killed in Afghanistan seven years ago before their wedding, and her heart shut down. Then she meets Tylor Damon and is attracted to him, but is being careful to guard her heart against another loss. When they are paired in a wedding party, sparks ignite between them. Tyler realizes something is keeping her at a distance, but he’s determined to bring a smile to her face.  When he’s almost killed in a rodeo competition, Kayla old fears threaten to drown her. Only a Christmas miracle will bring them together.   

Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to six. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years teaching Freshman English at the college level. She is a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and serves as President of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive. 


  1. I still have my Raggedy Ann doll! Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for posting today! I never had a Raggedy Ann doll. I had a vinyl baby doll that was my favorite but I don't think it had a name. Also I got a Chatty Cathy doll. I do love the Raggedy dolls.

  3. I never had one either, but I loved my baby doll with a rubbery head and cloth body. Chatty Cathy was after my time, but I always thought she was so cute Thanks for stopping by.