The truly excellent thing about Black history is that it comes in all glorious shapes, sizes and forms. Debbie Behan-Garrett accounts for Black history through a collection of preserved contemporary dolls in the form of DeeBeeGee’s Virtual Black Doll Museum.
Many of us grew up with white Barbie dolls being fully stocked on shelves everywhere but Barbie's Black friend "Christie" being in low supply. Behan-Garrett was invested in shifting this widely known fact following the birth of her daughter in the 1970s. The historic understanding of not many dolls reflecting the Black experience sparked her quest to find more Black dolls in the marketplace along with her interest in shifting negative narratives about Black people. Later on, she founded an extensive collection around a doll she purchased for her daughter's 13th birthday that she decided to keep for herself after realizing the fragility of it. This purchase jumpstarted the creation of her virtual doll museum.
The online museum highlights antique, vintage, modern, and one-of-a-kind Black dolls through photographs, detailed descriptions, additional references, and videos. As told to WTOP News, Behan-Garrett hopes to curate 1,000 dolls from her collection and from pictures donated from other collectors. As of now, 280 dolls are published to the site with 80 in the draft mode ready to be published.
Per the museums' website, the dolls are classified in four main categories. Antique dolls are ones that are 80 years old or older. Vintage dolls are identified as being made after 1940 but before 1960. Modern dolls are classified as being made after 1960 through today. The one-of-a-kind dolls tend to be handmade and are usually maintained by collectors. The dolls can be viewed on the museums' site by accessing the current installation page, archived installations or through searching for specific dolls by category.