September 7 – Raggedy Ann's Birthday

Posted on September 7, 2015

Have you ever seen a Raggedy Ann doll? She has red yarn hair and a triangle nose, and on her chest is a heart that says “I love you.”

I would have thought that Raggedy Ann was invented by a toy maker, or maybe by a seamstress. Or at least by doting grandmother... But instead it was invented by a man – a man who was a writer, a cartoonist, and a father.

According to that writer / cartoonist, Johnny Gruelle, what happened was this: In 1914, Gruelle was working at home, facing a deadline. He was interrupted by his daughter, Marcella, who had found an old hand-made rag doll in the family's attic. Gruelle explained that it must have been one of his mother's old dolls.

The rag doll had no face, and Marcella said she wished it had one. So Gruelle did a couple of brushstrokes on the doll's head with red paint, quickly dabbing a smile and a nose. He found two shoe buttons in his desk drawer and attached them as eyes. Then he came up with the idea of painting that heart tattoo on the doll's chest, under her clothing. His daughter read the words “I love you” and said, excited, “I love her, too!”

Gruelle and his daughter came up with the name “Raggedy Ann” – and soon Marcella was carrying raggedy Ann around, everywhere she went. Gruelle began to tell her stories about Raggedy Ann. When Marcella couldn't settle down to sleep, Gruelle told her that Raggedy Ann was waiting for her to go to sleep so that she could have her own adventures.

Now, I read this account of the invention of the Raggedy Ann doll several times, but I also discovered an article that warned that this account is partly true but almost certainly partly legend. 

Raggedy Ann may
be the first doll ever
marketed with books!
What is known for sure is that, on this date in 1915, Gruelle was awarded a patent for his doll character, and he began to sell hand-made dolls and, soon, story books about the doll's adventures. A few years later, Gruelle introduced the world to Raggedy Ann's brother, Raggedy Andy!

And the cheery rag dolls and their books became a multi-million dollar company!

  • Check out some of these pictures of Raggedy Ann and her doll friends.
  • Here are some printable Raggedy Ann and Andy paper dolls.
  • Here are some Raggedy Ann and Andy coloring pages, and here are some other activities featuring the dolls. 
Did you know...? 

Some people collect Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.
Some people dress up as Raggedy Ann or Andy for Halloween.
And there are even annual rallies for friends of Raggedy Ann and Andy!

Also on this date:

Labor Day

Grandma Moses Day  

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