The design for Raggedy Ann was patented on September 7, 1915. The doll design was turned into a series of stories in 1918 and in 1920, Raggedy Ann was joined by her male counterpart, Raggedy Andy.
There are few people alive today that can’t recognize the Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. Though today’s youth haven’t grown up with the stories the same way that their parents did, they still know the red yard hair and triangle nose as being one of the Raggedy Ann siblings. The dolls are often given as toys and special edition dolls are collected by fans of the red-haired siblings.
The story of Raggedy Ann’s creation is about as glamorous as her dress. The doll was created when the designer drew a simple face on an old hand-made rag doll. The name inspiration for the doll was complete chance as well. The designer pulled a book of poems from his bookshelf and flipped to “The Raggedy Man”followed by “Little Orphan Annie”. He combined the names to come up with Raggedy Ann.
The designer’s daughter succumbed to what was believed to be a side effect of the smallpox vaccine shortly after receiving the doll. The Raggedy Ann doll then became a symbol of the original anti-vaccination movement, which is gaining traction once again today.
Even though Raggedy Ann lacks a glamorous past and is associated with one of the most highly controversial movements of modern times, parents and grandparents continue to give Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls to their children and grandchildren to play with. Today’s children see the dolls as nothing more than a toy as the popularity of the books have diminished.
Raggedy Ann and Andy don’t do anything special. They are simply rag dolls. Their lack of flare is part of what makes them appealing to parents and kids. They beg to be used during imaginative play and because they aren’t battery operated, they’re great for bringing in the car or for playing with quietly in the evenings. The twin red heads can attend tea parties, visit the beach, go to grandmas and come back for a movie all without breaking a sweat.
Unfortunately, it is becoming difficult to find the doll in stores as the tainted association of the doll to the anti-vaccination movement grows stronger. Stores are hesitant to sell the dolls as to not align themselves with a cause. Many parents that disagree with the movement have removed the dolls from their homes.
There are few toys as inadvertently controversial as Ragged Ann and Andy. The dolls may look harmless on the outside, but once parents start looking into their history, they soon find there’s more to Raggedy Ann than meets the eye. Despite their lack of bells and whistles, Raggedy Ann and Andy are two of the most interesting and longstanding toys on the market.